Greer Vanderbyl, John Albanese, and Hugo F. V. Cardoso
The sourcing of cadavers for North American skeletal reference collections occurred immediately after death and targeted the poor and marginalised. In Europe, collections sourced bodies that were buried and unclaimed after some time in cemeteries with no perpetual care mandate, and may have also targeted the underprivileged. The relationship between socio-economic status (SES) and abandonment was examined in a sample of unclaimed remains (603 adults and 98 children) collected from cemeteries in the city of Lisbon, Portugal, that were incorporated in a collection. Results demonstrate that low SES individuals are not more likely to be abandoned nor to be incorporated in the collection than higher SES individuals. Furthermore, historical data indicate that the poorest were not incorporated into the collection, because of burial practices. Although the accumulation of collections in North America was facilitated by structural violence that targeted the poor and marginalised, this phenomenon seems largely absent in the Lisbon collection.
Introduction. Corpses in society:
about human remains, necro-politics,
necro-economy and the legacy
of mass violence
Élisabeth Anstett and Jean-Marc Dreyfus
The visible presence of human remains within societies is not a
new phenomenon.1 Whether these remains have been placed on
view for religious reasons (through the creation of ossuaries or
the use of relics, for example), for the purposes of experimental
science (in particular through the use and preservation of human
tissues and skeletons by the disciplines of medicine, biology and
The status of bodies in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide
Anne Yvonne Guillou
, which play a deep structuring role in the mental universe of the Khmer.
Bones-as-evidence: ossuaries and memorials from
the 1980s to the 2000s
It was on the initiative of the new government put in place under
effective Vietnamese control in 1979 that the first collective treatment of the bodies from the genocide was undertaken, its aim being
to turn them into ‘bones-as-evidence’. This treatment formed part
of the general effort to legitimize the new government in the highly
polarized international context of the Cold War and the end of the
Vietnam War (1975). The
43 M. K. Jackes, ‘The Huron spine: a study based on the Kleinburg ossuary vertebrae’, unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Anthropology,
University of Toronto, 1977.
44 See also M. K. Jackes, ‘Osteological evidence for Mesolithic and
Neolithic violence: problems of interpretation’, in M. Roksandic (ed.),
Violent Interactions in the Mesolithic: Evidence and Meaning (Oxford:
Archaeopress –BAR International Series 1237, 2004), pp. 23–40.
45 J. Glazier, ‘Mbeere ancestors and the domestication of death’, Man, 19
(1984), 133–47; J. M. Lonsdale, ‘The
they also constituted huge collections in the anthropology departments. UC Davis remains, as such,
a veritable ossuary. In pointing this out, Platt warns against a triumphalist reading of exhumations, showing that they can instead
participate in the creation and imposition of a largely mythic historical narrative through institutions and the general public.
10 Élisabeth Anstett and Jean-Marc Dreyfus
In the first section devoted to the agents of the search for and identification of bodies, Gabriel Finder shows how the Polish Jewish survivors of the Holocaust
Missing persons and colonial skeletons in South Africa
Ibid.; N. Shepherd, ‘Archaeology dreaming: post-apartheid urban imaginaries and the bones of the Prestwich Street dead’, Journal of Social
Archaeology, 7:3 (2007) 3–28; L. Green & N. Murray, ‘Notes for a guide to
the ossuary’, African Studies, 68:3 (December 2009), 370–86; ‘Prestwich
Place Memorial: human remains, development and truth’, 27 July 2010,
Archival Platform, available at www.archivalplatform.org/blog/entry/
prestwich_place/ (accessed 20 January 2014).
Rassool, ‘Human remains’, p. 18.
Z. Crossland, ‘Acts of estrangement: the post-mortem making of
Warfare, politics and religion after the Habsburg Empire in the Julian March, 1930s– 1970s
, the Redipuglia Shrine. This is one of the largest
First World War memorials in Europe, comparable only to the
Douaumont Ossuary near Verdun, or to the Thiepval Memorial to
the Missing of the Somme.
The mausoleum is located near the Carso Front, on a hill that
was highly contested during the conflict, and was erected in 1938
by the Fascist regime. An entire side of the hill was excavated to
receive the corpses of 100,187 soldiers in twenty-two terraced
steps. Only 39,857 of these soldiers are known. At the bottom of
the steps are the tombs of the generals. The
Contested narratives of the independence struggle in postconfl ict Timor-Leste
appropriate burial in the central heroes’ cemetery in
Metinaro, but this had allegedly been blocked.15 The possibility of
an alternate heroes’ cemetery in the eastern part of the country has
been raised as well and the Sagrada Familia plans on continuing
its efforts. A possible compromise solution is to inter the remains
within ossuaries which the state is currently constructing in all district capitals, thus, in a sense, leading to a public–private partnership of sorts (author’s interviews, 2011–12). As a faction which split
from the mainstream Falintil, the Sagrada