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The fate of Namibian skulls in the Alexander Ecker Collection in Freiburg

This article explores the history of the Alexander Ecker Collection and situates it within the larger trajectory of global collecting of human remains during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is then linked to the specific context of the genocide in then German South West Africa (1904–8), with the central figure of Eugen Fischer. The later trajectory of the collection leads up to the current issues of restitution. The Freiburg case is instructive since it raises issues about the possibilities and limitations of provenance research. At the same time, the actual restitution of fourteen human remains in 2014 occurred in a way that sparked serious conflict in Namibia which is still on-going four years later. In closing, exigencies as well as pressing needs in connection with the repatriation and (where possible) rehumanisation of human remains are discussed.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
A war of extermination, grave looting, and culture wars in the American West

Spanish and American colonialisms had their own particular regimes of domination, but it is helpful to take the long view that the period from the mid-eighteenth to late nineteenth centuries is interconnected and part of the ‘violent process of nation-making’ occurring worldwide.14 The loss of life under Spanish colonialism in what is now central and southern California was driven by contagious diseases, but the mission system was authoritarian and brutal, marked by ‘the sight of men and women in irons, the sound of the whip, the misery of the Culture wars in the

in Human remains and identification
Missing persons and colonial skeletons in South Africa

Jardin des Plantes and later Musée de l’Homme in Paris;40 a third instance arose through research by historians on museum collections of skeletal remains in South Africa and Europe.41 These suggested that, while the TRC had been charged with accounting for human rights abuse during the apartheid period, colonialism’s violence remained unresolved.42 These bodies spoke to longer histories of dismemberment and dissection, and those of acquisition, whether as war trophies or other means of collection. The skeletal remains in museums, whose afterlives historians Martin

in Human remains and identification
Mass graves in post-war Malaysia

community – the loudest segment of the local populace in demanding retribution – that the wheels of justice were indeed turning.17 Or perhaps the British were intent on exposing the wanton Mass graves in post-war Malaysia   225 cruelty of the Japanese occupiers, so as to contrast the relatively benign nature of British colonialism. And what became of the nameless, unknown mass found at Bukit Dunbar? Some of the remains were collected, along with others in various sites throughout the island by the local China Relief Fund chapter.18 These were reinterred at Air Itam

in Human remains and identification
Towards atypology of the treatment of corpses of ‘disappeared detainees’ in Argentinafrom 1975 to 1983

was extremely varied and shows a degree of cruelty which matched that under colonialism and in the civil war that followed Argentine independence. The common forms of violence within the CDCs included: rape; torture of pregnant women; humiliation (both physical and psychological) of children as a form of torturing their parents; the electrocution of genitals; blackmailing relatives when the disappeared detainee had already been killed; and the destruction, desecration, or concealment of the bodies of those killed. From the moment they were abducted, and preceding

in Destruction and human remains