The Social World, Diversity, Institutions and Values

“Family Reunification Post-Mortem – Dead Border Crossers as ‘Biological Thanato-Citizens’”

Kouroutzas Christos, Trubeta Sevasti, Paraskevopoulos Dimitris

Research ProposalConferenceResearch ResultsShort BiosPublications

Summary of the Research Proposal

This project deals with the identification of dead migrants and refugees that uses DNA tests in order to hand over the corpses to their families. We consider this process an act of family reunification and raise the guiding research question as to how far a genetic criterion for family reunification gives rise to new post-mortem refugee and migratory subjectivities, given that, in this process, the family and the individual are defined not in social but in genetic terms. Drawing upon theoretical concepts such as “biological citizenship” (Novas and Rose 2011) and “thanato-citizenship” (Simpson and Sariola 2013), we suggest the term “biological thanato-cizenship” to describe a post-mortem biologically determined social subject.

The aims and objective of the proposed research are the following: a) to explore the ways in which biology acts as a certificate which allows for the reunification of the dead refugees and migrants with their biological families; b) to examine the post-mortem identity construction of refugees and migrants as a specific form of subjectivisation engaged in by both the living members of their families as well as the state authorities responsible for the identification of the corpses; and c) to revisit the current sociological debates on biological/genetic citizenship and thanato-citizenship and to advance these debates by placing the focus on an underexposed issue, i.e. the family members themselves, and by elaborating the concept of biological thanato-citizenship.

The research plan relies on qualitative methodology from the social sciences and combines qualitative document analysis and ethnographic fieldwork. The finding of this empirical research will be appraised by critical discourse analysis. The empirical research will be conducted in Athens and on Lesvos island.

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Research: “Family Reunification Post-Mortem – Dead Border Crossers as ‘Biological Thanato-Citizens’”

Research Group: Kouroutzas Christos, Trubeta Sevasti, Paraskevopoulos Dimitris

The research project “Family Reunification Post-Mortem – Dead Border Crossers as ‘Biological Thanato-Citizens” was funded by the Research Centre for the Humanities (RCH) for the year 2020.

Authors of the Report: Christos Kouroutzas, Dimitris Paraskevopoulos


The project deals with the identification of dead refugees and migrants by DNA tests, so that their corpses will be given to their families. We consider this process an act of family reunification and raise the guiding research question of how far the genetic criterion for the family reunification gives rise to new post-mortem refugee and migratory subjectivities, given that, during this process, family and the individual are defined not in social but in genetic terms. In this context, we proposed the term “biological thanato-cizenship” to describe a post-mortem biologically determined social subject. The aims and objectives of the proposed research were the following: a) to explore how biology certifice and allows the family reunification of the dead refugees and migrants with their biological family; b) to examine the post-mortem identity construction of refugees and migrants as a specific form of subjectification, by both the living members of their families and the state authorities responsible for the identification of the corpses; and c) to review the current sociological debates on “biological thanato-citizenship”. The research relied on qualitative methodology of social sciences and combined qualitative document analysis and ethnographic fieldwork. The empirical research was conducted on Lesvos Island, Evros, and Athens, in Greece. What emerged primarily from the present research is that -in regards to the wider geneticization of society and, consequently, of life, death and family-kinship- the politics of migration follow Western biomedical norms which reinforce the biological criterion, thus producing “new” borders penetring the search, identification, and allow or not the family reunification of dead refugees and migrants with living loved ones. At the same time, the search, trace and/or family reunification of dead refugees and migrants with living loved ones are carried out mainly through social networks, activating refugee-migrant communities and collectivities within the framework of the politics of mourning and activism, or through a “social collective family”.

Short theoretical framework

Drawing upon theoretical concepts such as: (1) the “biological citizenship” (Rose & Novas 2011), which means the construction of a citizen’s identity based on biological references (Rose & Novas 2011; Simpson & Douglas-Jones 2017) and “molecular politics” (Rose 2007); (2) the “genetic citizenship” (Heath et al. 2007), that is, the determination of one’s individual identity by state policies through one’s genetic characteristics that are ascertained by DNA-examination (Heath et al. 2007); and (3) “thanato-citizenship” (Simpson & Sariola 2013; Simpson & Douglas-Jones 2017), which explores how the dead are placed both politically and socially in regimes of the living, we suggested the term “biological thanato-cizenship” to describe a post-mortem biologically determined social subject. Furthermore, studies in the field of border deaths (Cuttitta & Last 2020; Rygiel 2016) and ethnographic research in the field of anthropology of death, such as Green’s (2012) for the sans papiers dead bodies in the Aegean or De León’s (2013; 2015) και Magana’s (2011) for the undocumented dead bodies on the U.S.- Mexico Borders have outlined the politics of death of “anonymous others” and their degrees of death-citizen qualities, and at the same time have made it extremely difficult to locate and/or reunite with their living loved ones.

Scholars who deal with the use of genetic tests in the process of family reunification place particular emphasis on the migration policies and the role of migration institutions in treating migrants as “biological citizens”. Furthermore, they highlight the way biology continues to provide relevant criteria for inclusion or exclusion, as well as the way DNA testing policy for family reunification by immigration authorities -which is followed by many countries especially from 2009 [1] until today, including Greece [2]- consolidates a narrow biological concept of family in the context of the ‘securitization’ in European migration policy -through which making up “biological families” and family reunification decisions by state immigration authorities through DNA analysis. This facilitates an ethnic bias in immigration control and may violate the applicants’ informational privacy and self-determination, thus going against the social organization of family relationships and kinship in many cultures (Taiz et al. 2002; Hautaniemi 2007; Weiss 2011; Heinemann and Lemke 2013a; 2013b; Heinemann et al. 2013; Helén & Tapaninen 2013; Helén 2014; Heinemann et al. 2015; Tapaninnen & Helén 2020) [3]. The DNA, and by extension the individual body, is used as a document which cannot be altered or destroyed (Aas 2006; 2011), as well as a “truth machine” (Lynch et al. 2008), within the context of biomedicine-genetic surveillance, biological citizenship, medicalization – geneticization of refugees and migrants (Nayar 2012; Heinemann and Lemke 2013a; 2013b; Kouroutzas 2018), as a part of medicalizing borders (Trubeta et al. 2021).

We positioned our project within these scholarly debates and placed a particular focus on the post mortem construction of new subjectivities, the “biological thanato-citizens”, in the era of forensic genetics, DNA analysis and other biometrical technologies. Starting points of the research were the issues of borderness, [genetic] border surveillance – securitization and the “undocumented border crossers’ corpses” (Muller 2004; Trubeta, 2012: 197; Kouroutzas & Paraskevopoulos 2013) and extended to kinship and family reunification after death with their own living relatives, examining whether the above is taking place in a social or biological concept.  Our concept of “biological thanato-citizenship” focused on both “identified” as well as “unidentified” deceased refugee and migrant corpses. The “unidentified” corpses are archived in genetic databases, and many of them “wait” for a family reunification, as “orphan biological materials” (Kouroutzas 2018), and by extension as “non-persons” (Dal Lago 2009) and “stateless”. More specifically with the signing of the Prüm Convention, these data are stored in the genetic database of the police which is connected with the Combined DNA Index System (CO.D.I.S.) database, which was created within the context of borderness cooperation for the tackling of organised crime and terrorism, highlight issues which connected with the “new” transnational genetic surveillance.


Research Methodology

The research plan relied to qualitative methodology of social sciences and combined the ethnographic fieldwork which included narrative interviews and participant observation, with qualitative document analysis (Mason 2003; Bryman 2017). The central research questions were:

  1. In which ways do the biological and social conditions of life get entangled in defining the deceased undocumented border crossers as both individuals and members of their families? What differences can be noticed between the identification of the deceased persons by the state institutions, on the one hand, and their family members, on the other?
  2. How do refugees and migrants narrate the procedure of DNA comparative analysis for accomplishing family reunification with a deceased relative?
  3. How does the western norms of death are conveyed through the death of “others’”, which can be better understood through the articulation of refugees and migrants’ lived experiences’?

The findings of the empirical research were appraised, using the methodological tools of critical discourse analysis.

Prior to the empirical research, a review of foreign and Greek literature was conducted in the fields of border studies, migration-refugee studies, death-new immortalities studies, citizenship studies, as well as in the field of society and forensics – genetics studies.

The investigation began with the collection and secondary analysis of qualitative data. In particular: a) legislative content in relation to the rights of dead people who cross the border and living loved ones who search for them; b) protocols, guides and manuals in relation to the search and “identification of victims of mass disasters” and “family ties” regarding their reunification with living relatives, carried out through the collection of ante mortem and post mortem data, as well as through the application of genetic forensic science; and c) press releases, and reports by governmental and non-governmental bodies, organizations and authorities focusing on both the policies of how to manage refugees and migrants’ bodies and the living family members who search for them and on the record meetings of the Standing Committee on Public Administration, Public Order and Justice.

During the ethnographic phase, the data were generated (Mason 2003: 85-86) through two steps, as presented below.

a) A multi-site participatory observation, aiming to track the “paths” of the search and family reunification of refugees and migrants, in which it was examined whether the (western) politics pursued are based on “biological identification”. This identification method follows both refugees and migrants’ dead bodies -from the place where they are found to the morgue, to burial sites such as the cemetery of Aghios Panteleimon in Mytilene, or the cemetery refugees in Kato Tritos area on the island of Lesvos, or in the cemetery in the village of Sidiro in Evros, to the places of processing and storage of biological material, to repatriation or reunification in “other” places- and places of remembrance and politics of mourning, whose rituals are associated with stories of search and family reunification, as well as their living loved ones looking for them “elsewhere”. The importance of social networks for locating and reuniting was also examined, “illuminating” the boundaries of family reunification after death and in life. Throughout the participatory observation, the researchers kept notes from the field in a research diary.

b) A conduct of semi-structured and narrative interviews (Bryman 2017: 515) with: (1) refugees and migrants, some of whom live in Greece. The primary criterion for the selection of the interviewees was that they have claimed a deceased family member who lost their life while crossing borders. Apart from them, refugees and migrants who were not affected by such a loss came into question given that, under the current circumstances, “irregular” border crossing especially in Evros and Aegean Sea – Mediterranean, is connected with a high risk of death. In a tragic way, this risk is part of the flight and a possible post-mortem family reunification is not ruled out from the fleeing plan. (2) Volunteers and solidarity activists -active in the search and family reunification of refugees and migrants-. They have a particular focus on post-shipwreck solidarity actions and the subsequent “paths” of the dead bodies relating to the search carried out by their relatives and/or the family reunification after death through social networks. (3) “Expert” medical examiners and biologists/geneticists, focusing on how family and kinship are perceived through the “eye” and discourse of the “experts”. Consequently, the focus was on how the process of “identification of family/kinship ties” takes place within the context search and/or family reunification after death with living members. Furthermore, the construction of the post-mortem identity of refugees and migrants was examined as a special form of subjectification, which is intertwined with whether the search and family reunification takes place in biological terms or within the context of social networks and an expanded [social] “Family” that transcends the boundaries of biology and biological status of the citizen and the thanato-citizen.

In light of the above, the “routes” of biological materials that determine the identity of both dead refugees and migrants who lost their lives crossing the border, as well as living family, relatives and friends who are looking for them were traced. In addition to the “experts”, state and non-governmental bodies are involved in these “routes”- representatives (port-border guards-police, registrars, representatives of municipalities/regions, owners of funeral homes, undertakers, representatives of religious denominations, etc.), searching whether biology is the “passport” to identification and family reunification, or whether the above is done through social search channels.

The ethnographic fieldwork took place in Evros (which was not included in the original design, but the importance of its inclusion was highlighted through empirical research), on Lesvos island and in Athens; Evros and Lesvos are important because of their border position, but also because of the sampling of genetic materials from the corpses, which are delivered to the newly established databank for genetic sampling in Athens, just like the living family members’ materials. The ethnographic research and production of research data took place during the year 2020. Due to the traffic restriction measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the research team changed the original research design. In this sense part of the conversations – interviews were carried out remotely. Respectively, the participatory observation was carried out following the legislative measures of each time period. At all stages of the research, the ethical framework governing the quality of social research was strictly followed (Mason 2003: 123-130, 373-379).

The participants were informed about the identity of the researchers and the research context through the provision of a relevant consent form based on the principles of confidentiality, voluntary participation and informed consent, protection of participants and honest investigative reporting (Adler & Clark 2018: 72-81), as well as the Regulation (EU) 2016/679 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data. In particular, regarding the conversations with refugees and migrants, the research team took into account the ethical issues associated with the objects of the present study that were also addressed in similar ethnographic studies [4]. A total of fifteen conversations and interviews took place, in which the participants used Greek, English or French as their language of communication, and therefore there was no interpreter needed.

Through the ethnographic field combined with participatory observation and conversations, further archival material was collected and analyzed (Mason 2003: 115-122), such as forms of organizations used in the search and/or family reunification of dead refugees and migrants with their living relatives, in which, among other things, biometric characteristics and information are recorded that “identify” the “biological relative ties” through DNA testing.

Basic Research Results

The refusal to return the cadavers to their siblings is just one possible conceptual approach for uncovering how a patriarchal, colonizing ethic bourgeois normativity developed ‘scientifically’ over the study of human corpses that are not visible from other research perspectives among 19th-century European culture to this day. A prominent example of this concern arose around a woman called Sara Baartman.  Baartman died on 29 December 1815, but her brain, skeleton and sexual organs remained on display in a Paris museum until 1974, as the Bushmen were the missing being between animals and humans. Her remains weren’t repatriated and buried until 2002. This example illuminates how various patriarchal, colonial, racist and class scientific discourses reinforced human taxonomies, through which the abject as a monstrous, “savage” effeminate life presents the frontier on which family reunification after death is classified as “impossible” contributing to notions of “racial/ethic hygiene”, which consequentially influences how “savage corpses” continue to be contained by or subject to ideologies created by the patriarchy [5].

In the age of biomedicine, biotechnology, genomics and genetic forensics, biological citizenship ventures are still associated with an aggressive and demeaning colonized science and are being revitalized and recoded through DNA policies starting from the study of Jeffreys et al. (1985) and the normalization of DNA testing in Western societies especially from the 90’s onwards  -which produce “new” regimes of truth about life and death through “new” perceptions of what it means to be a citizen and the distinctions between real, potential, annoying and impossible citizens. These are linked to beliefs about the biological existence of people as individuals, families and generations, as communities, as populations and races, and as a species in life (Rose & Novas 2011: 546-547), and death (Simpson & Douglas-Jones 2017)- focusing on the “biological thanato-citizenship”. Within this context and drawing from the Foucauldian thought (1979; 1976), the borders of biology cross the “migration routes” in terms of biopolitics and thanato-politics. From the thousands of people who lose their lives crossing the border [6] to the living loved ones who search for them, and if informed that they are dead, try to secure a decent burial “here” or to be repatriated/reunited “elsewhere”, biology runs through the politics of migration, death, kinship and family/social relations. The above are inextricably linked to the biologicalized degrees of citizenship, focusing on its modern manifestations and the way biology -through applications of genetic forensics- acts and locates-  displaces/immobilizes-moves the bodies of refugees and migrants both alive and after death. Based on this, the heterogeneity of practices pursued in the context of the politics for managing the dead and the death of refugees and migrants, as well as the search and/or family reunification with living loved ones [7] -especially during the construction of the refugee-migration crisis in Europe as a “state of exception” (Agamben 2005) and in the context of the “humanitarian action of the formal institutions”- was followed by the normalization of biological DNA sampling both for “identifying” or not of the dead themselves and for “certifying” “biological family ties” with living relatives.

Tracing the “paths” of refugees and migrants’ dead bodies is intertwined with the “paths” of biological DNA materials of both themselves and their living relatives and in case they locate them, their reunification is “allowed” or not [8]. In particular, the biological criterion through the acquisition of genetic material and DNA testing has been integrated into the international, European and national legal framework so that human rights are protected [9], and is included both in the “investigation of death from non-natural causes”, “violent death”, as well as in the search and/or family reunification in life and after death, thus producing new borders, identities and subjectivities. Furthermore, the collection, analysis and identification are carried out by utilizing post mortem data (personal items, distinctive features on the body such as scars and tattoos, testimonies of survivors, etc.) and ante mortem data (coming mainly from relatives, if identified) and including, inter alia, the taking and testing of DNA of both the people who lose their lives at the border crossing and those living loved ones who seek them out, and relies on biological protocols of principles such as Interpol’s “Disaster Victim Identification (DVI)” [10]. At the same time, the biological criterion is included in the manuals and reports of institutions [11]. The research and collection of post mortem and ante mortem data presents many variations in the practices followed (both between Evros and Lesvos, as well as between Greece and other countries, like Italy), from the stage of locating the dead refugees and migrants -if they are located, to the morgues [12] and burial sites, which, at the same time are linked to the boundaries of family reunification after death [13]. Indicatively, the above variations are related to whether they are utilized in the post mortem data within the context of searching – identification and/or family reunification -that is, in the forensic service of Evros special importance is given to personal items, with the time remaing refugees and migrants’s dead bodies in the morgue refrigerator so to be identified and reunited with their living family members× in the forensic service of Εvros remain for a longer period of time and with a protocol number at all stages, whereas on Lesvos they are buried immediately and different protocol practices are followed-.

What has emerged from the present research is that in regards to the wider geneticization (Lippman 1991; 1992) of society and, consequently, of life, death and family-kinship, the politics of migration follow Western biomedical norms and the biological criterion, thus producing “new” borders. These borders, on the one hand, lead to the construction of new post-mortem identities and special forms of subjectification in the context of receiving and examining DNA from the bodies of refugees and migrants -including further issues concerning missing and dead migrant children [14] and their geneticization- and, on the other hand, the search, the kinship links, and the family are biologicalized. However, the search and/or identification of dead refugees and migrants with living loved ones is carried out mainly through social networks, activating refugee-migrant communities and collectivities within the framework of the politics of mourning and activism [15].

Memorial in Tichero/Evros – Greece [Copyright: Marily Stroux]

Memorial in Thermi/Lesvos Island – Greece [Copyright: Marily Stroux]

However, family reunification takes place once “biologically certified” through comparative DNA analysis that is based on the “biological family” as well as on the “limits” of DNA testing and statistical processing (the type of sample specifically from the dead body, the “Who is looking for Who” principle in which the preferred comparative material needs to come from biological parents and relatives -first degree blood relatives- since as long as one moves away from the above relationships (second degree of kinship), statistical processing can yield or not yield safe results etc., excluding any other form of family and kinship). Furthermore, the “biological crosschecking” of kinship ties allows the repatriation and/or transfer of the bodies of refugees and migrants to the place where the living relatives live× cases which are the “exception”. More specifically, when the dead bodies have not been buried, the limits associated with the western regulatory framework in relation to the “identified” bodies of refugees and migrants are overcome, if relatives so wish and have the opportunity, to which, however, collectivities and communities of refugees and migrants contribute to the context of a “social collective family”. Further issues arose in relation to burial rites, mourning and family reunification after death with living loved ones in digital conditions, in the sense that if living relatives manage to locate their dead loved ones before burial or after that and are not able to travel to attend the burial ceremony or visit the burial site afterwards physically, some choose to participate by digital means in their communication with members of collectivities and communities of refugees and migrants, without however wishing to disclose their identity for social, political and cultural reasons.

Moreover, living members – kins (i.e. blood relatives and mainly first degree ones) based on the limits of DNA analysis and identification sometimes follow the western biomedical norms in their attempt to locate their loved ones -if they can overcome other limitations such as: whether they can afford the cost, their fear of the authorities in the sense that the collection and dispatch of DNA to police laboratories should be carried out through an official authority, the way DNA is used, the social prevailing conditions (i.e. war) and the cultural context where they live, in combination with whether Western biomedical standards are followed in relation to DNA testing, etc.- and whether they resist them in the context of a global biopolitics and “political economy of hope”. Thus, migratory populations become “governable” (Foucault 1991; 1997) and through disciplinary/biopolitical genetic surveillance technologies, “cellularly” controllable. At the same time, within the context of the geneticization of death, new meanings of the subject, kinship and family are produced, since the unidentified biological DNA samples from the unidentified dead bodies of refugees and migrants are stored in the Directorate of Criminological Investigations of the Hellenic Police genetic database. The samples are referred to as “orphan biological materials” – “anonymous or protocoled orphaned (biological) exceptions”, within the context of a possible future identification. However, even in the case of “biological identification”, burial conditions produce new borders associated with locating the dead body in “mass burial sites” where anonymous or protocol-numbered slabs carry erased numbers or are moved [16], followed by the boundaries related to the exhumation.


Cemetery of Aghios Panteleimon in Mytilene/Lesvos – Greece [Photo: Christos Kouroutzas]

Refugees cemetery in Kato Tritos/Lesvos – Greece [Photo: Dimitris Paraskevopoulos]

[1] Ad-Hoc Query on Conducting other investigation (using a DNA test) in family reunification cases. European Migration Network. Available at:  [Accessed 20/12/2020]

[2] Article 4 “Conducting a DNA test in the context of family reunification”.  Joint Ministerial Decision 47094/2018 – Government Gazette 3678/Β/ 28-8-2018. It determines the required supporting documents and the procedure so that a national long-stay visa (VISA-type D) is issued to third-country nationals or stateless persons in the context of their family reunification with refugees (in Greek) Available at: [Accessed: 15/12/2020]

[3] See Nicholson, F. (2018). The “Essential Right” to Family Unity of Refugees and Others in Need of International Protection in the Context of Family Reunification, UNHCR Research paper. Available at: [Accessed: 20/12/2020]

[4] See indicatively Green’s ethnographic research (2013), the research programme «Mediterranean Missing. Understanding Needs of Families and Obligations of Authorities», the report “Like a part of a puzzle which is missing”: The impact on families of a relative missing in migration across the Mediterranean. Report on the situation of families” (2016), p. 9-11. Available at:  [Accessed: 20/12/2020]

[5] See Fausto-Sterling (1995) and Tzanaki (2016: 13-72).

[6] Statistics of organizations, bodies and collectivities on border deaths record a proportion of the total number of people who die crossing the borders, in the sense that some refugees and migrants have never been identified; they remain in “thanato-political crossings”. For “Death rates”, see indicatively “Deaths at the Borders of Southern Europe, Human Costs of Border Control Project”, University of Amsterdam. Available at: [Accessed: 20/12/2020).  Missing Migrants. Tracking Deaths Along Migratory Routes, International Organization of Migration (IOM). Available at: [Accessed: 20/12/2021]. Calculating “Death Rates” in the context of Migration Journeys: Focus on the Central Mediterranean”. Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) International Organization for Migration (IOM). Available at: [Accessed 20/12/2020]. “List of Deaths”, UNITED. Available at: [Accessed: 20/12/2020]. See also Pavlidis and Karakasi (2019b).

[7] See Kovras and Robins’ (2017), and furthermore the reports of the Missing Migrants Project: “Missing Migrants in the Mediterranean: Addressing the Humanitarian Crisis”. Available at:  [Accessed 28/12/2020], “Missing Migrants: Management of Dead Bodies”. Available at: [Accessed 28/12/2020]. See also Robins, S. (2019). “Analysis of Best Practices on the Identification of Missing Migrants: Implications for the Central Mediterranean.” Central Mediterranean Route Thematic Report Series, International Organization for Migration. Available at:  [Accessed 20/12/2020]

“Fatal Journeys” (2014). A Report, from the International Organization for Migration, on the Tracking Lives Lost during Migration’, Vol. 1. Available at:   [Accessed 28 /12/2020]

“Fatal Journeys” (2016). A Report, from the International Organization for Migration, on the ‘Identification and Tracing of Dead and Missing Migrants’, Vol. 2. Available at: [Accessed 21/12/2020]

“Fatal Journeys” (2017). A Report, from the International Organization for Migration, on the Improving Data on Missing Migrants’, Vol. 3, Part 1. Available at:  [Accessed 21/12/2020]

[8] See “Even After Death” Documentary, Refocus Media Labs. For more information about the documentary and trailers see: [Accessed 21/12/2020]. See also M’charek (2016).

[9] See the initiative “Last Rights”, available at: [Accessed: 20/12/2020], in the framework of which the “Mytilini Declaration – We the undersigned make this Declaration for the Dignified Treatment of all Missing and Deceased Persons and their Families as a Consequence of Migrant Journeys” was produced. Available at:   [Accessed: 20/12/2020]. See also the “Extended Legal Statement and Commentary. The Dead, the Missing and the Bereaved at the World’s Borders”. Available at: [Accessed: 20/12/2020] and Angeli, D., Bolton, S. & Jarvis, C. 2021. “Last Rights Statement regarding pushback of OHCHR”. Available at: [Accessed: 05/02/2021]

[10] Available at:  [Accessed 20/12/2020]

[11] such as the International Red Cross Committee “Missing People, DNA Analysis and Identification of Human Remains: A Guide to Best Practice in Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Armed Violence”.  Available at:

[Accessed 20/12/2020] and “Missing Persons Project”. Available at:  [Accessed 20/12/2020]

[12] See the studies of Cappella et al. (2017), Bertoglio et al. (2017; 2020), Pavlidis and Karakasi (2019a), Cattaneo et al. (2020) on how the clinical experience is shaped.

[13] See also “Report on Missing Migrants in Italy”. Available at: [Accessed 20/12/2020]

[14] See IOM’s report “Fatal Journeys” (2019). Missing Migrant Children, Vol. 4. Available at:  [Αccessed 25/12/2020]

[15] See also Marily Stroux’s Film “Memorials W2EU”. Available at: [Αccessed 27/01/2021]

[16] respectively in Evros, more specifically in the area of Sidiro, the dead bodies of refugees and migrants were buried in the village cemetery, but at the same time there was a mass burial “elsewhere” at the top of a mountain.


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Foucault, M., 1991. Governmentality. In G. Burchell, C., Gordon and P., Miller (eds.) The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, pp. 87-104.

Foucault, M., 1979. History of Sexuality, Vol. 1.: An Introduction. London: Allen Lane.

Foucault, M., 1976. The Birth of the Clinic. London: Routledge.

Green, S., 2012. Missing details: The transnational lives of the undocumented dead bodies in the Aegean. In S. Trubeta (ed.) The Refugee and Migratory Issue. Border Readings and Studies. Athens: Papazisis, pp. 133-158 (in Greek).

Hautaniemi, P., 2007. Diasporic authenticity: Connecting genes and building families through DNA testing in Somali family reunification in Finland. In A. Kusow and S. Björk (eds.) From Mogadishu to Dixon: The Somali diaspora in a global context. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, pp. 119-234.

Heath, D., Rapp, R., and Taussig, K-S., 2007. Genetic Citizenship. In D. Nugent. & J. Vincent. (eds.) A Companion to the Anthropology of Politics. MA, Oxford, Carltot: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, pp. 152-167.

Heinemann, T., and Lemke, T., 2013a. Suspect families: DNA kinship testing in German immigration policies, Sociology, 47 (4): 810–826.

Heinemann, T., and Lemke, T., 2013b. Biological citizenship reconsidered: The use of DNA analysis by immigration authorities in Germany. Science, Technology and Human Values, 39(4): 488-510.

Heinemann, T., U. Naue., and Tapaninen, A.-M., 2013. Verifying the family? A Comparison of DNA analysis for family reunification in three European countries (Austria, Finland, Germany). European Journal of Migration and Law, 15 (2): 183–202.

Heinemann, T., Helén, I., Lemke, T., Naue, U., and Weiss, M., 2015. Suspect Families. DNA Analysis, Family Reunification and Immigration Policies, 1st Edition. N.Y., London: Routledge.

Helén, I., and Tapaninen, A.-M., 2013. Closer to the truth: DNA profiling for family reunification and the rationales of immigration policy in Finland, Nordic Journal of Migration Research, 3 (3): pp. 153–161.

Helén, I., 2014. Biological Citizenship Across the Borders: Politics of DNA Profiling for Family Reunification, Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 15 (3), pp. 343-360.

Jeffreys A. J., Brookfield J. F., and Semeonoff, R., 1985. Positive identification of an immigration test-case using human DNA fingerprints. Nature, 317 (6040): 818–819.

Kouroutzas, C., and Paraskevopoulos, D., 2013. Body, Borders’ and Biometric Control. The violation of Human Rights in migrants. A qualitative research in Greece, Antigone – La violenza della pena, 3, pp. 125-144.

Kouroutzas, C., 2018. Criminology of Genetics. Athens: Pedio (in Greek).

Kovras, I., and Robins, S., 2017. Missing migrants’ deaths at sea and unidentified bodies in Lesbos. In H. Donnan, M., Hurd and C. Leutloff-Grandits (eds.) Migration Borders and Moving Times. Temporality and the Crossing of Borders in Europe. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 157-175.

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Lippman, A., 1991. Prenatal genetic testing and screening: constructing needs and reinforcing inequities. American Journal of Law and Medicine, 17(1-2): 15-50.

Lynch, M., S. Cole, R. McNally, and Jordan, K., 2008. Truth machine: The contentious history of DNA fingerprinting. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press

Magaña, R., 2008. Bodies on the Line: Life, Death and Authority on the Arizona-Mexico Border. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Chicago, Chicago.

Mason, J., 2003. Qualitative Researching. Athens: Ellinika Grammata (in Greek).

M’charek, A., 2016. Performative Circulations: On Flows and Stops in Forensic DNA Practices. Italian Journal of Science and Technology Studies. 7 (2), 9–34

Muller, B., 2004. (Dis)qualified bodies: Securitization, citizenship and ‘identity management’, Citizenship Studies, 8 (3): 279–294.

Nayar, P., 2012. ‘I sing the body biometric’: Surveillance and biological citizenship. Economic and Political Weekly, 47 (32): 17–22.

Pavlidis, P. and Karakasi, M., V., 2019a. Greek land borders and migration fatalities – Humanitarian disaster described from the standpoint of Evros, Forensic Science International. 302:109875, doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2019.109875.

Pavlidis, P. & Karakasi, M., V., 2019b. A retrospective statistical review of deaths owing to migration through the southeasternmost land borders of the European Union, Greece 2000-14, Disasters, 43 (3), 459-477.

Rose, N., and Novas, C., 2011. Biological Citizenship. In A. Athanasiou (ed.) Bio-sociabilities. Theories on the Anthropology of Health. Athens: Nissos (in Greek).

Rose, N., 2007. The politics of life itself. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Rygiel, K., 2016. Dying to Live: Migrant Deaths and Citizenship Politics along European Borders: Transgressions, Disruptions, and Mobilizations, Citizenship Studies, 20, 545–560.

Simpson, B., and Sariola, S., 2013. ‘Precarious Ethics: Toxicology Research Among Suicide Admissions in Sri Lankan Hospitals’, BioSocieties, 8(1):41–57.

Simpson, Β., and Douglas-Jones, R., 2017. ‘New immortalities: death, donation, and dedication in the twenty-firrst century’, Medicine anthropology theory, 4 (4): 1-21.

Taitz, J., Weekers, JEM., and Mosca, DT., 2002. DNA and immigration: The ethical ramifications. The Lancet, 359(9308): 794.

Tapaninen, A-M., and Helén, I., 2020. Making up Families: how DNA analysis does/does not verify relatedness in family reunification in Finland, BioSocieties, 15: 376-393.

Trubeta, S., Promitzer, C., and Weindling P., (eds.), 2021. Medicalising borders. Selection, containment and quarantine since 1800. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Trubeta, S., 2012. Refugees and Charitable Humanism: Determination of the Refugee Subject between Protection, Suppression and Bodyfication. In S. Trubeta (ed.) The Refugee and Migratory Issue. Border Readings and Studies. Athens: Papazisis, pp. 185-214 (in Greek).

Tzanaki, D., 2016. History of [ab]normality. Athens: Asini (in Greek).

Weiss, M., 2011. Strange DNA: The rise of DNA analysis for family reunification and its ethical implications. Genomics, Society and Policy, 7 (1): 1–19.

Christos Kouroutzas received his Phd from the Department of Sociology at the University of the Aegean, in which he currently teach the courses “Social Problems”, “Social Inequalities” and “Special Topics of Social Problems in Contemporary Greek Society” as an academic scholar for the academic year 2019-2020. He has taught “Sociology of Deviance”, “Society and Biopolitics” and “Genetics and Social Control” as an academic scholar at undergraduate graduate level, and criminology, as guest lecturer, at postgraduate level at the same Department. He is member of the academic staff of the Master Course “Criminological and Penal Law perspectives of corruption, economic and organized crime”, School of Social Sciences, Hellenic Open University. His research interests focus on Sociology and Criminology of Genetics, Death and Body. He is National Representative of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, and member of scientific associations, including the Greek Society for the Study of Crime and Social Control and the Anti-racist Οbservatory of the University of the Aegean. He is reviewer in Sociology Study Journal. He has been involved in various conferences, research projects, and he has a number of journal articles and book chapters. He is author of the “Criminology of Genetics” book (Pedio 2018).

Sevasti Trubeta is a sociologist and has a temporary professorship (Vertretungsprofessur) at the University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal, in Germany, where she teaches Diversity Studies. From 2009 to 2015 she was an assistant professor at the University of the Aegean (Institute of Sociology, Lesvos) and from 2015 to 2017 a visiting professor at the Free University Berlin (Centrum Modernes Griechenland). Prior to these appointments she had research positions at the Freie Universität Berlin and Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg i.Br in projects funded by the German Research Society (DFG). She has been a visiting researcher and fellow at diverse universities including Humboldt Universität Berlin (Kosmos-Excellence Initiative) and Princeton University. The focus of her research addresses the fields of social inequality, borders, migration, refugees and minorities (especially Roma); eugenics, medicalisation, racism and racial theories.


Dimitris Paraskevopoulos holds a BA in Sociology, an MA in Social Research on Regional Development and Social Cohesion and a PhD in Sociology from the University of the Aegean. In the previous academic year (2018-2019), he was a University Scholar of the Department of Business Administration at the University of the Aegean. His research interests focus on sociology and criminology of sports, methodology of social research, as well as on issues of social control, securitization and surveillance processes. He has been involved in various conferences, research projects, and he has a number of journal articles and book chapters. Ηe has participated in the organizing committees of scientific conferences.

Publications (selection)

  • Κουρούτζας, Χ. (υπό έκδοση 2020). Πολιτικές της καραντίνας και τα «επικίνδυνα» βιολογικά υγρά της κρίσης: Η περίπτωση των «εκδιδόμενων οροθετικών γυναικών», Συλλογικός τόμος 2ο Συνέδριο της Σχολής Κοινωνικών Επιστημών του Πανεπιστημίου Αιγαίου με τίτλο «Οι Κοινωνικές Επιστήμες σήμερα. Διλήμματα και προοπτικές πέρα από την κρίση», Μυτιλήνη, 06-09/06/2019.
  • Κουρούτζας, Χ. (2019). Το Έγκλημα Αποδίδει; Κρατικά-εταιρικά Εγκλήματα στην Ελλάδα. Στο Σ. Βιδάλη, Ν. Κουλούρης & Παπαχαραλάμπους, Χ. (επιμ.) Εγκλήματα των Ισχυρών. Διαφθορά, οικονομικό και οργανωμένο Έγκλημα. Αθήνα: Εκδόσεις ΕΑΠ.
  • Kουρούτζας, Χ. (2018). Εγκληματολογία της Γενετικής. Αθήνα: Πεδίο.
  • Κουρούτζας, Χ. (2018) Από τον «Εγκληματία Άνθρωπο» στα «Εγκληματικά Γονίδι- α». Γενετικός λόγος και εξουσία στη γενετικοποίηση της παρεκκλίνουσας συμπε- ριφοράς. Στο Αρτινοπούλου, Β., Βιδάλη, Σ., Γεωργούλας, Σ., Θεμελή, Ό., Κουλού- ρης, Ν. Κ., Παπανικολάου, Γ. (επιμ.) Εξουσίες, επιστημονική ουδετερότητα και ε- γκληματολογικός λόγος. 50 χρόνια Howard Becker “Whose side are we on?” Συμβο- λές στο πρώτο συνέδριο της Ελληνικής Εταιρείας Μελέτης του Εγκλήματος και του Κοινωνικού Ελέγχου. Αθήνα 24-27 Μαΐου 2016. Αθήνα: ΕΕΜΕΚΕ, σσ. 60-77. Διαθέ- σιμο στο:
  • Κουρούτζας, Χ. (2016) Η γενετικοποίηση της παρεκκλίνουσας συμπεριφοράς και οι κοινωνίες του «γενετικού ρίσκου»: Γονιδιακά «μεταλλαγμένοι» ή κάποιοι από εμάς;, Πρακτικά 5ου Πανελληνίου Συνεδρίου: H ελληνική κοινωνία στο σταυροδρόμι της κρίσης έξι χρόνια μετά. Διαθέσιμο στο: /files/praktika _ 5οu_sunedriou_me_isbn.pdf, σελ 256-266.
  • Κουρούτζας, Χ. (2016). Η Γενετικοποίηση της Παρεκκλίνουσας Συμπεριφοράς. Συμβολή στην Κριτική Εγκληματολογία και την Κοινωνιολογία της Γενετικής, Διδακτορική Διατριβή, Πανεπιστήμιο Αιγαίου.
  • Kouroutzas, C. (2012) “Forensic Science and Criminology. The role of the Medical Coroners. A Pilot qualitative research in Greece”. In Georgoulas, S. (ed.) The Politics of Criminology. Berlin: LIT Verlag.


Participation in Conferences (selection)

    • Κουρούτζας, Χ. Ιχνηλατώντας το θάνατο των «Άλλων»: Σύνορα και διαδρομές των νεκρών σωμάτων προσφύγων και μεταναστών. Ημερίδα του ΕΚΚΕ και του Τμήματος Κοινωνιολογίας, της Σχολής Κοινωνικών Επιστημών, του Πανεπιστημίου Αιγαίου, με θέμα: «Ξένος» ή «Ξένιος»; Έρευνες για το μεταναστευτικό – προσφυγικό ζήτημα». Αθήνα 2019.
    • Κουρούτζας, Χ. Death Politics and Bare Heterogeneity: Crimes of the Powerful in the “World of the Dead”. 45th Annual Conference of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control “Uncovering Harms: States, corporations and organizations as criminals”, Laboratory of Sociology of Youth, Leisure and Sports, Department of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, University of the Aegean, Mytilene 2017.
    • Κουρούτζας, Χ. Όψεις Κοινωνιολογίας του Θανάτου: Από το «υγρό νεκροταφείο» στους «τάφους των αριθμών», Laboratory of Sociology of Youth, Leisure and Sports, Department of Sociology, School of Social Science, University of the Aegean and Co-operative Institute for Transnational Studies, “Crossing borders”, Mytilene 2016.

  • Trubeta, “Hybride Rassen-Kontaktzonen-Multiple Grenzen. Der Diskurs über die ‚Mittelmeerrasse’”, in Monika Albrecht (Hrsg.), Europas südliche Ränder –Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf Asymmetrien, Hierarchien und Postkolonialismus-Verlierer. transcript-Verlag 2020, 57-77
  • Trubeta, “Vaccination and the refugee camp: exercising the free choice of vaccination from an abject position in Germany and Greece”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, July 2018, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2018.1501269
  • Trubeta, Physical Anthropology, Race and Eugenics in Greece 1880s-1970s. Leiden & Boston: Brill Academic Publishers (Balkan Studies Library, Vol. 11) 2013
  • Λ. Παπαστεφανάκη, Μ. Τζανάκης, Σ. Τρουμπέτα (επιμ.), Διερευνώντας τις κοινωνικές σχέσεις με όρους υγείας & ασθένειας: η κοινωνική ιστορία της ιατρικής ως ερευνητικό πεδίο, Πανεπιστήμιο Κρήτης, Ηράκλειο 2013, ISBN: 978-960-9430-09-8; ebook:
  •  Σ. Τρουμπέτα (επιμ.), Το προσφυγικό και μεταναστευτικό ζήτημα – Διαβάσεις και μελέτες συνόρων. Αθήνα, Παπαζήσης 2012
  • Promitzer, S. Trubeta, M. Turda (eds.), Hygiene, Health and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945, Budapest & New York: CEU Press, 2011
  • Σ. Τρουμπέτα, “Η επίδραση της φυλετικής υγιεινής στην Ιατρική Σχολή του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών κατά τον μεσοπόλεμο”, στο Φυλετικές θεωρίες στην ελλάδα. Προσλήψεις και χρήσεις στις επιστήμες, την πολιτική, τη λογοτεχνία και την ιστορία της τέχνης κατά τον 19ο και τον 20ό αιώνα, επιμ. Έφη Αβδελά et al., Εκδόσεις Πανεπιστημίου Κρήτης & Φιλοσοφική Σχολή του Πανεπιστημίου Κρήτης, Ηράκλειο 2017, σ. 99 – 128
  • Trubeta, “‘Rights’ in the grey area: undocumented border crossers on Lesvos”, Race & Class 56/4 (2015), 56–72
  • Trubeta, “Roma as homines educandi: A collective subject between educational provision, social control, and humanism”, in Maja Miskovic (ed.), Roma Education in Europe: Practices, Policies, and Politics. Routledge (2013), p. 15-28

  • Georgoulas, S. and Paraskevopoulos, D. (forthcoming 2020) «Youth, Policing and Football Violence in Greece. A critical criminological approach». In: “Taking the field”: research, interconnections, reflections on sport and criminality. 
  • Παρασκευόπουλος, Δ. (2018) «Παιχνίδια Εξουσίας»: Η πολιτική Ανατομία της Επιτηρούμενης Κερκίδας. Μυτιλήνη: Βιβλιοθήκη Πανεπιστημίου Αιγαίου (Διδακτορική Διατριβή).
  • Παρασκευόπουλος, Δ. (2018) «Προσδιορίζοντας το περιεχόμενο της οπαδικής βίας στον αθλητισμό,  μανιχαϊσμός και ασφάλεια στην εξέδρα». Στο: Β., Αρτινοπούλου, Σ., Βιδάλη, Σ., Γεωργούλας, Ό., Θεμελή, Ν. Κ., Κουλούρης και Παπανικολάου, Γ. (επιμ.) (2018). Εξουσίες, επιστημονική ουδετερότητα και εγκληματολογικός λόγος. 50 χρόνια Howard Becker “Whose side are we on?” Συμβολές στο πρώτο συνέδριο της Ελληνικής Εταιρείας Μελέτης του Εγκλήματος και του Κοινωνικού Ελέγχου. Αθήνα: ΕΕΜΕΚΕ (σσ.417-433).
  • Γεωργούλας, Σ. και  Παρασκευόπουλος, Δ. (2013) «Η εξάρτηση της τυπολατρίας και η σύνδεση της με τη νεανική οπαδική βία. Μία μελέτη περίπτωσης». Στο: Α. Κουμουλά και Σκλάβου, Κ. Εξαρτήσεις στην εφηβεία: Οι κίνδυνοι, η πρόληψη και η αντιμετώπιση τους. Αθήνα: Τμήμα Ψυχιατρικής Παιδιών και εφήβων του Γενικού Νοσοκομείου Αττικής Σισμανόγλειο – Αμαλία Φλέμιγκ Ν.Π.Δ.Δ. (σσ. 119-137).
  • Κουρούτζας, Χ. και Παρασκευόπουλος, Δ. (2014) «Οι «Κένταυροι» στην άνθηση του «Νεοφασισμού» εντός της Ελληνικής κοινωνίας». Κοινωνίας Δρώμενα, 2 (4), σσ. 38-48.
  • Kouroutzas C. and Paraskevopoulos D. (2013) “Body, Borders and Biometric Control. The violation of Human Rights in migrants. A qualitative research in Greece”.  Antigone, anno VIII, n. 3, pp. 125-144.
  • Παρασκευόπουλος, Δ. (2011) Παρουσίαση Συλλογικού Τόμου: “Politics of Criminology – Critical studies on deviance and social control”.  Νέοι, Έγκλημα και Κοινωνία, τ.3, Νοέμβριος, σσ. 73-76.