Comparing Violence: Organ Theft Rumors in Chechnya and Latin America

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Amandine Regamey


War, Violence, Rumors, Organ Theft, Chechnya, Latin America


In 2001 a rumor started to spread in Chechnya, according to which Russian forces arrested and murdered young Chechen men in order to sell their organs. These rumors of organ trafficking are reminiscent of those that have surfaced in other contexts of extreme violence, particularly in Latin America. A comparison with research on Latin America allows us to show how organ theft rumors gradually spread and crystallize as structured stories and permits us to examine how these stories enter international discourses about the mistreatment and commodification of human bodies under conditions of violence and conflict. This article argues that organ theft rumors are a collective way of expressing fears, putting a traumatic experience into words, and talking about what war has done to Chechen society. In English, extended summary in Russian.

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