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Disturbing Bodies

Perspectives on Forensic Anthropology

Edited by Zoë Crossland and Rosemary A. Joyce

SAR Press - Disturbing Bodies2015. 244 pp., notes, references, index, 6 x 92015. 244 pp., notes, references, index, 6 x 9

As bodies are revealed, so are hidden and often incommensurate understandings of the body after death. The theme of “disturbing bodies” has a double valence, evoking both the work that anthropologists do and also the ways in which the dead can, in turn, disturb the living through their material qualities, through dreams and other forms of presence, and through the political claims often articulated around them. These may include national or ethnic narratives that lay claims to bodies, personal memories and histories maintained by relatives, or the constitution of the corpse through performative acts of exhumation, display, and analysis. At the center of this work are forensic anthropologists. Although often considered narrowly in terms of its technical and methodological aspects, forensic practice draws upon multiple dimensions of anthropology, and this volume offers a range of anthropological perspectives on the work of exhumation and the attendant issues.

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Contributors: Serrin Boys, Zoë Crossland, Luis Fondebrider, Pamela Geller, Rosemary A. Joyce, Debra Martin, Isaias Rojas-Perez, Tim Thompson, Hugh Tuller, Heather Walsh-Haney

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  • “Crossland and Joyce draw into conversation diverse scholars whose theories and practices gather around the dead. Even as human remains from both the recent and the distant past are subjected to “forensic” investigation, the body as a material reality has defied analysis within any narrow disciplinary domain. By tracing the many ways in which the dead activate wider social and material relations, these essays generate exciting opportunities for creative engagements and unexpected encounters. The reader will find no consensus here, but an exchange of views that is timely, adventurous, and provocative.”
    Shannon A. Novak, Syracuse University, author of House of Mourning: A Biocultural History of the Mountain Meadows Massacre
  • “This collection of ten essays ... is an original contribution to the forensic anthropology–archaeology literature, as it offers a well-grounded position that tries to understand forensic endeavours as part of the wider social, political, and cultural networks they are part of. At the heart of the volume lies the attempt to highlight the limitations of forensic anthropology, to dismantle the illusion of an objective, straightforward, and universal methodology that can unlock the ‘truth’. ... Overall, through the themes raised and the methodological approach, this collection should be a ‘must read’ for any practitioner dealing with dead bodies, as it takes one outside the comfort of established methodologies, and into the wider world.”
    Alexandra Ion, European Journal of Archaeology
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