Visualizing the Casualties of War

Here’s an interesting project by Neil Halloran that uses datavis to help articulate the scope and scale of casualties in the Second World War:

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.

Watching this reminded me of a number of Derek Gregory’s posts interrogating the difficulties that emerge from quantifying and mapping wartime casualties.

And there are indeed important complications to consider here. Where, for instance, is the limit between civilian and combatant? How do we geographically locate of a casualty of war (i.e. how far from the frontlines counts as a war casualty)? And what is the length of time after direct hostilities that a casualty can be considered a war casualty (I’m thinking here of Rob Nixon’s concept of ‘slow violence’)?

Nonetheless, I think the narrative and aesthetics above produce a compelling visualization that affects the viewer in a way that text doesn’t. It would be interesting to revisit some of my archival work with the intention of visualizing it. I wonder what different directions and conclusions that methodological approach might yield.