It is with some embarrassment that I find myself completing a book about missing persons while being unable to adequately acknowledge all those who have helped. David Edkins once told me of a quotation displayed in a London coffee bar: “Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” I am certainly blessed with the latter, if blessing it be, and that and the length of time this book has been in the writing are my only excuses.
The staff of the UK National Archives at Kew, Emily Oldfield at the Red Cross Museum and Archives in London, and Ndahambelela Hertha Lukileni and her staff at the archives of the United Nations in New York were most helpful during the research on the missing and displaced of the Second World War, as were participants and speakers at the conference “Beyond Camps and Forced Labour” at the Imperial War Museum in January 2009, particularly Paul A. Shapiro, Lynne Taylor, and Nancy Hamlin Soukup. My historian colleagues at Aberystwyth were a source of support and encouragement, especially R. Gerald Hughes, who gave generous help and extensive comments on areas in which I am far from an expert. Maja Zehfuss helped with German documents and much more. I had fascinating conversations with Hester Hardwick, Susan Lillienthal, Debbie Lisle, and Andreja Zevnik on this material. A grant from the Aberystwyth University Research Fund made the archive work possible.
Much of the work for the chapters on New York City, and Manhattan in particular, took place during a series of visits from March 2002 to June 2007, again funded by Aberystwyth University. As well as visiting myself, I seized on any friends or colleagues who were traveling to New York and charged them with photographing particular places and bringing back literature. Michael Feldshuh, Malcolm Hamer, Colleen Kelly, Laura Kurgan, Jan Ramirez, and Michael Schulan spoke to me on a number of questions. Some of the material I draw on for chapters 1 and 5 was first published as “Missing Persons: Manhattan 2001,” in Living, Dying, Surviving: The Logics of Biopower and the War on Terror, ed. Elizabeth Dauphinee and Cristina Masters (p.xvi) (New York: Palgrave, 2006); the chapters also draw on work published in “Ground Zero: Reflections on Trauma and In/distinction,” Journal for Cultural Research 8, no. 3 (July 2004): 247–70, and in “The Rush to Memory and the Rhetoric of War,” Journal of Political and Military Sociology 31, no. 2 (Winter 2003): 231–51.
My initial work on the London bombings was presented at London in a Time of Terror: The Politics of Response, an international conference held at Birkbeck College in London in 2005. I had interesting discussions in London that day and elsewhere with the convenors, Angharad Closs Stephens and Nick Vaughan-Williams, and other participants. I would like to thank Marie Fatayi-Williams especially, and not just for the conversations we had but for her work more generally. Lucy Easthope shared her experiences of postdisaster planning with me. Some of the material on which chapter 4 draws was first published in “Biopolitics, Communication, and Global Governance,” Review of International Studies 34, no. S1 (January 2008): 211-32. Mick Dillon read a draft of that piece, and a wonderful conversation, fortified by a metaphorical whiskey or two, followed.
Lucy Taylor in Aberystwyth and Katherine Hite at Vassar College shared their expertise on Latin America and commented thoughtfully on my writing on Argentina; Naeem Inayatullah’s inimitable comments made me realize that this was the book I was working on; Himadeep Muppidi and his students reminded me of the particularity of my perspective; Tim Edkins prompted my engagement with Rancière; Simona Rentea shared her insights on those who go missing; Véronique Pin-Fat and Tom Lundborg read near-final drafts and provided vital feedback. My masters and doctoral students and others in the graduate community in Aberystwyth are a continual source of inspiration and good reading suggestions. Members of the Critical and Cultural Politics Group, the interdepartmental Performance and Politics Group, and the informal writing group in the International Politics Department read and commented on work in progress. Papers drawing on the developing ideas were presented at conferences of the International Studies Association; at Brown University, in Rhode Island; York University, Toronto; Vassar College, in New York State; and at the universities of Durham, Hull, St. Andrews, and Warwick in the United Kingdom, among others, and participants provided helpful and always encouraging comments.
Over the years, many others have read and commented on versions of the work, and many more have influenced my thinking. I hope they will forgive me for not mentioning them by name; my thanks are due to them all. The intellectual input was invaluable, but what was perhaps most striking was how many people turned out to have personal experience of one sort (p.xvii) or another of missing persons, and how supportive they were of the project. Finally, that this book takes the form it does is largely thanks to the thoughtful engagement of Roger Haydon and two anonymous reviewers from Cornell University Press, and to the careful assistance of Ange Romeo-Hall and Marian Rogers. (p.xviii)