Illustration by Rupert Bottenberg

Site menu:


Site search




Corpus Delicti

Corpus Delicti: Disappearance and Bodily traces in Vancouver, 1978-2007

MA thesis | Department of Media Studies, Concordia University

Download  in .pdf format here.


Public stories regarding human mass murder tend to focus on killers as operative forces. The victims are sidelined in their sheer numbers, and the glamour of violence is almost irresistible. Corpus Delicti: Disappearance and Bodily Traces in Vancouver, 1978-2007 is an investigation into the case of Vancouver’s missing women who, now, are not only missing from their lives and their neighbourhood, but also, to a large extent, from the stories we tell about them. Beginning in 2007, Robert Pickton, the so-called “Pig Farm Killer”, is being prosecuted for the murders of twenty-six of these women. But our acknowledgement of these women’s lost lives is broader than news reporting on details of the crimes committed against them. In order to properly memorialize the missing women and ensure that such disappearance never happens again, it is necessary to tell broader stories about the lives that have been lost. Since 1978, the growing list of missing women was generally understood by the authorities to be discrete disappearances caused by the geopolitical determinants of the women’s lives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood. Chapter One examines the geographical location of disappearance. In Chapter Two, a history of the “missing women series” in the newspaper shows how this public story put faces and names to these women, and how their public story brought momentum to the case which quickly resulted in a face and name being assigned to their accused killer. Chapter Three looks at various artistic enactments about and around the missing women, and suggests how we, the living, are necessarily implicated ourselves in their absence