Latin America and Caribbean Workshop | Constanza Dalla Porta, Princeton University

"Unearthing the Dead: Exploring Forensic Anthropology’s Role in Post-Conflict Peru"
Friday, November 10, 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm



Event Description

"Unearthing the Dead: Exploring Forensic Anthropology’s Role in Post-Conflict Peru"

Constanza Dalla Porta, Princeton University

This workshop will be offered virtually via Zoom. Registration is required to attend. 

The pre-circulated paper will be available one-week prior to the workshop. The paper will be available to the Princeton University community via SharePoint. All others should request a copy of the paper by emailing Santiago Conti at [email protected].

This paper delves into the practice of forensic anthropology and the sociopolitical impact of mass grave exhumations in post-conflict Peru. It places a special focus on the emergence and evolution of the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (Equipo Peruano de Antropología Forense, EPAF), dissecting how Peruvian society grappled with the aftermath of the Internal Armed Conflict (1980-2000), leaving behind a grim legacy of thousands of executed and disappeared victims.

This work focuses on three distinct aspects. Firstly, it scrutinizes the influence of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2003) on mass grave exhumations, emphasizing the challenges and paradoxes confronted during the inaugural state-endorsed excavation endeavors, and the pivotal role played by EPAF in this transformative process. Secondly, the paper revisits how exhumations illuminate the distinctive aspects of forced disappearances in the nation, characterized by the intimacy of violence and the cohabitation of victims; remains, survivors, and perpetrators within the same spatial context. Lastly, this paper dissects the intricate relationship between EPAF and the state, investigating the establishment of state-sanctioned teams and other initiatives for conducting and investigating mass grave exhumations.

This paper contemplates the significance of forensic anthropology as a potent instrument against impunity, not only within the purview of transitional justice but extending beyond it. It underscores the role of forensic anthropology teams as human rights advocates, contributing to the pursuit of justice, forging connections between the state and the kin of victims, and fortifying the foundations of collective memory.


Princeton University’s Center for Collaborative History and the Program in Latin American Studies, and by Rutgers University’s Center for Latin American Studies and Department of History.
Santiago Conti
Latin America and the Caribbean
Scholarly Series
Latin America and Caribbean Workshop