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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Dean Robinson

Second Advisor

Vincent Ferraro

Third Advisor

Sonia Alvarez

Fourth Advisor

Ventura Pérez

Fifth Advisor

Forrest Bowlick


My thesis is about the politicization of the dead which is a cultural mechanism used for establishing domination by organizations such as nation states, empires, colonial companies, or drug cartels. It is a type of performance violence used to back claim to monopoly over legitimate use of force in a given territory where political organizations engage in micro-conquests and biocultural warfare. Biocultural warfare is the use of sovereign power that exceeds what the paradigmatic approaches under biopolitics and necropolitics can elucidate. The goal of biocultural warfare is the eradication of indigenous life and its replacement with settler forms. I focus on actions that withhold or otherwise make use of human remains—both body parts and corpses—they send political messages to survivors of conflict. These actions go further than conventional forms of oppression and suppression that physically target the human body for discipline. I make visible how this phenomenon takes place, especially in Turkey and Mexico where it has frequently occurred in the past and looms in the present. In both countries, ruling regimes have used the politicization of the dead as a form of counterinsurgency. The effect of this kind of violence is invisible in both senses of the word. First, while the politicization of the dead is outlawed under contemporary rule of law systems, the practice is invisible to specific publics and illegible to courts. Second, it has psycho-social effects that are invisible to the human eye but expressed through culture and noticeable in everyday life. Since there is a gap in our knowledge of how politicization of the dead continues to occur despite being illegal, my thesis fills this gap and adds onto the interdisciplinary studies of political violence, a discernable subfield in political science that approaches research using critical interpretive tools that push back against state sponsored forms of violence. In conclusion, my dissertation is meant as a provocation to think about invisible violence as injustice.