Contesting Human Remains in Museum Collections: The Crisis by Tiffany Jenkins

By Tiffany Jenkins

Since the past due Seventies human continues to be in museum collections were topic to claims and controversies, resembling calls for for repatriation through indigenous teams who suffered below colonization. those requests were strongly contested via scientists who study the cloth and think about it particular proof.

This booklet charts the impacts at play at the contestation over human is still and examines the development of this challenge from a cultural standpoint. It exhibits that says on useless our bodies aren't restrained to as soon as colonized teams. a bunch of British Pagans, Honouring the traditional useless, shaped to make claims on skeletons from the British Isles, and historical human continues to be, lavatory our bodies and Egyptian mummies, that have no longer been asked via any staff, became the focal point of campaigns initiated through participants of the career, from time to time faraway from demonstrate within the identify of appreciate.

By drawing on empirical study together with wide interviews with the claims-making teams, ethnographic paintings, rfile, media, and coverage research, Contesting Human continues to be in Museum Collections demonstrates that powerful inner affects do in truth exist. the single e-book to envision the development of contestation over human is still from a sociological standpoint, it advances an rising quarter of educational examine, environment the phrases of dialogue, synthesizing disparate principles, and making feel of a broader cultural concentrate on lifeless our bodies within the modern interval.

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Extra info for Contesting Human Remains in Museum Collections: The Crisis of Cultural Authority (Routledge Studies in Museum Studies)

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The majority of the collection (54 percent) represents individuals from the UK. (NHM 2006a: unpaginated) The use of the number of body parts, instead of the number of requests for return, acts to suggest the scale of the problem is great. The reference to body pieces, as opposed to human remains, is more effective. Crucially, there is no mention of the low number (33) of recorded requests from communities for return. The implication in the article is that the 20,000 body pieces are suspect and may have been acquired in a similar fashion to that of the 25-year-old man whose skin was boiled off.

The Loss to Science In the 1990s, requests made to the British Museum and the Natural History Museum in London from activist groups supported by the Australian and New Zealand governments were refused by the trustees and directors, who cited the importance of the commitment of the institution to broad concepts of science and heritage (TAC 2001). Neil Chalmers, director of the Natural History Museum, stated that museums had: Scientists Contest Repatriation 39 A duty to the nation to retain those objects and we have a duty to the scientific international community to use them as a very valuable scientific resource.

It is only in this way that our knowledge of the past can be reconsidered in the light of new techniques and new questions which arise. (Hillson 2001: 1) These appeals to the value and future potential of science were quickly dismissed. Firstly, it was suggested that they were over-stated and that the contested material was rarely researched by scientists. According to the museum director and activist Tristram Besterman: ‘The Manchester Museum has no record of having received from a bio- anthropologist any request for information about, or access to, human remains which it held’ (Besterman 2004: 10).

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