Forensic Identification in the Aftermath of Human Rights Crimes in Chile: A Decentered Computer History

Medina, Eden
Technology and Culture

As computer historians extend the bounds of what constitutes computer history, they must also take care not to write histories that overstate the importance of these technologies. "Decentering" the computer in computer history provides a way for historians to study the role of computers in more domains without exaggerating their importance. Here I illustrate how the use of a computer system for forensic identification formed part of Chile's complicated history of truth, justice, and reconciliation in the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship. While computers are not, and should not be, the central focus of how we understand processes of truth and reconciliation in history, in this case they illuminate the dynamics of how those working within the Chilean government, including its justice system, have approached Chile's history of human rights abuses.