Who Counts?: The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide
Diane M. Nelson is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and the author of
Reunion of Broken Parts
This chapter revisits the cosmology of indigenous numeracy, drawing on both Mayan and Quechua counting to argue that they engage practices of rectification that support, even as they are not exactly equivalent to, the labors of number in human rights accountancy. The chapter contemplates the struggles around reparations that followed the 1996 peace accords, including the way that money supports, even as it is not equivalent to, people in survivors’ quests for justice and for repair. The chapter, telling of Guatemala’s National Reparations Program, which counts beneficiaries, payments, and goods distribution, and of paradigmatic court cases that count perpetrators’ payback in coin and time, traces how “financializing” these relationalities becomes a mundane infrastructure while remaining fundamentally weird.
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