Human Remains. From Cemeteries to Museums (and Back)€ 3.00
What happens to our bodies after death? Why do cultural manipulations of the body continue long after biological death? The immediate care of the corpse, the choice of the way to dispose of it (burial, cremation etc.), the recovery and worship of some remains (e.g. Christian relics) show that the body is the object of much social and ritual attention even after its death. So how to explain the collections of skulls, skeletons and other body parts held and exhibited at ethnography, anatomy and natural history museums? Requests by native peoples to return such remains raise the question: who do dead bodies belong to—to scientific or religious communities? Or are they private remains belonging to descendants? Are they just bones, or are they relics? Are they research materials, or ancestors? The role that human remains have played in different eras and cultures will be addressed from the anthropologist’s standpoint.
Adriano Favole is deputy director for Research at the Department for Culture, Politics and Society at the University of Turin and teaches Cultural Anthropology, Culture and Power. He has lectured at the Universities of Milan, Genoa and Bologna and in New Caledonia. He has travelled and conducted research in Futuna (western Polynesia), New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Australia and in La Réunion (Indian Ocean). His main areas of study are political anthropology, anthropology of the body and anthropology of heritage. He writes regularly for the newspaper Corriere della Sera’s cultural insert, La lettura. His publications include: La palma del potere (Il Segnalibro, 2000); Isole nella corrente (La ricerca folklorica, Grafo, 2007); Resti di umanità. Vita sociale del corpo dopo la morte (2003); Oceania. Isole di creativity culturale (2010) and La bussola dell’antropologo (2015), both published by Laterza; Vie di fuga. Otto passi per uscire dalla propria cultura (UTET, Dialoghi sull’uomo, 2018).