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

By Tiffany Jenkins

Since the overdue Seventies human continues to be in museum collections were topic to claims and controversies, reminiscent of calls for for repatriation via indigenous teams who suffered less than colonization. those requests were strongly contested by way of scientists who examine the fabric and view it specified facts.

This publication charts the affects 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 lifeless our bodies aren't limited 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 historic human is still, lavatory our bodies and Egyptian mummies, that have no longer been asked through any crew, became the focal point of campaigns initiated via participants of the career, every now and then faraway from reveal within the identify of appreciate.

By drawing on empirical examine together with large interviews with the claims-making teams, ethnographic paintings, rfile, media, and coverage research, Contesting Human is still in Museum Collections demonstrates that robust inner affects do in reality exist. the single e-book to envision the development of contestation over human is still from a sociological point of view, it advances an rising quarter of educational learn, environment the phrases of dialogue, synthesizing disparate rules, and making experience of a broader cultural specialize in lifeless our bodies within the modern interval.

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Crucially, activists can achieve little unless external events or underlying changes in social attitudes contribute to creating ideas that are receptive to the claims (Best 1987; Jenkins 1996). The lack of evidence promoted by activists to validate their claims for the therapeutic transfer of human remains, as well as the limited resistance to this argument illustrated in the following chapter, suggests that these ideas have broader cultural purchase. In the construction of this problem activists draw upon and reference a number of concerns that were already established in wider society.

Restitution is commonly defi ned as the payment of compensation or the return of objects or property, a trend that Barkan suggests has subsequently become a major part of national politics and international diplomacy. Sociologist John Torpey (2006) documents that while the term ‘reparations’ was initially used exclusively to describe what were effectively fi nes exacted among states before the Second World War, it now refers to a much broader making of amends towards nonstate groups and individuals.

There may be a large number of different cultural resources from which activists can choose, but they do not pick the issues they promote, or the frames, by accident; these may be consistent with the ideology of advocates, or because they seem likely to appeal to the claims-makers’ audience. Crucially, activists can achieve little unless external events or underlying changes in social attitudes contribute to creating ideas that are receptive to the claims (Best 1987; Jenkins 1996). The lack of evidence promoted by activists to validate their claims for the therapeutic transfer of human remains, as well as the limited resistance to this argument illustrated in the following chapter, suggests that these ideas have broader cultural purchase.

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