Forensic Architecture

1. A technical term in criminology referring to efforts designed to frustrate or prevent in advance the forensic-scientific investigation of physical or digital objects, including documents and photographs as well as bodies, soil, weapons or their residues, buildings, etc. An often-sophisticated operationalization of the dictum “leave no traces,” counter-forensic practices seek actively to block the deposition or collection of traces and/or to erase or destroy them before they can be acquired as evidence. 2. A term coined by the photographer and writer Allan Sekula to describe the deployment of forensic techniques, derived from police methods, by human rights investigators and their colleagues (including forensic anthropologists, photographers, and psychotherapists) in order to challenge oppressive regimes or respond to their aftermath. Sekula writes, referring principally to the work of Clyde Snow and Susan Meiselas in Kurdistan after the first Gulf War: “Counter forensics, the exhumation and identification of the anonymised (‘disappeared’) bodies of the oppressor state’s victims, becomes the key to a process of political resistance and mourning.”

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