A little while back I blogged about a forthcoming book I am working on, co-edited with Melanie Giles of Manchester University looking at mortuary archaeology in the world today. Well, the rationale for the book was explained in the last blog. In this entry, my aim is simply to whet your appetite. All the papers are now peer-reviewed and resubmitted; we just need to clarify details of the chronology towards publicaiton and the precise details of the ordering of the papers. What is outlined below is still provisional and subject to change.
Archaeologists and the Dead: Mortuary Archaeology in Contemporary Society
Melanie Giles and Howard Williams
This book developed from two conference sessions co-organised by Melanie Giles and Howard Williams in 2010. The first took place at Easter 2010 at the Southport IfA (Institute for Archaeologists) conference, the second in December 2010 at the Bristol TAG (Theoretical Archaeology Group) conference. Attracting a diverse range of heritage professionals and archaeologists as speakers and audience, the sessions provided the inspiration and foundation for this book. Further chapters were commissioned between 2010 and 2012 to provide eighteen case studies evaluating current debates, practices and challenges regarding the archaeological excavation, study, display and interpretation of mortuary remains.
The range and character of this book collection set it apart from previous works and make it a valuable contribution to the study of mortuary archaeology’s many interactions with contemporary society. The geographical range of the papers spans the UK, Northern, Western and Central Europe and North America, thus contrasting with previous studies that are either British-focused or dedicated to the treatment of human remains in post-colonial contexts such as North America and Australasia. The range of environments and practices covered by the book also make it distinctive; this is a book about mortuary archaeology in the field, in the lab, in the media and in academic publications as much as it is about museums and repatriation. The book also presents new perspectives and methodologies in interrogating well-trodden debates; from the discussion of art, variability in the treatment of human remains between localities and regions, and discussion of human remains in the media. Finally, this is a book that deals with how and why people in contemporary society think and feel about, and engage, with mortuary archaeology, but equally it situates the archaeologist within contemporary society and part of contemporary mechanisms for identity-creation, memory reproduction and ontological consolidation. In these senses, the book captures current debates but also serves as a platform to present a new vision for the range of interactions and engagements between mortuary archaeology and contemporary society that warrant further investigation in the future.
We are grateful to all the authors for their hard work, patience and support, and particularly to Lynne Goldstein for her concluding review. Many thanks are also due to the many anonymous referees who have provided expert appraisals and constructive suggestions regarding the chapters. Thanks finally to our families and friends without whose support this book project would never have been finished.
1. INTRODUCTION: ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE DEAD IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY by Melanie Giles and Howard Williams
PART 1: DIGGING THE DEAD
2. QUESTIONS RAISED IN EXCAVATING THE RECENT DEAD by Sian Anthony
3. PERSONHOOD AND RE-EMBODIMENT IN OSTEOLOGICAL PRACTICE by John A. McClelland and Jessica I. Cerezo-Roman
4. SEPARATING THE EMOTIONS: ARCHAEOLOGICAL MENTALITIES IN CENTRAL ITALIAN FUNERARY ARCHAEOLOGY by Ulla Rajala
5. SLAVE TRADE ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE PUBLIC: THE EXCAVATION OF A ‘LIBERATED AFRICAN’ GRAVEYARD ON ST HELENA by Andrew Pearson and Ben Jeffs
6. HABEAS CORPUS: CONTESTED OWNERSHIP OF CASUALTIES OF THE GREAT WAR by Martin Brown
7. BONES WITHOUT BARRIERS: THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF DIGGING THE DEAD by Faye Sayer and Duncan Sayer
PART 2: DISPLAYING THE DEAD
8. A DISCUSSION OF MUSEUM PRACTICE IN THE DISPLAY OF HUMAN REMAINS by Hedley Swain
9. DISPLAYING THE DEAD: THE ENGLISH HERITAGE EXPERIENCE by Sarah Tatham
10. THE IMMORTALS: PREHISTORIC INDIVIDUALS AS IDEOLOGICAL AND THERAPEUTIC TOOLS IN OUR TIME by Nina Nindström
11. COVERING THE MUMMIES AT THE MANCHESTER MUSEUM: A DISCUSSION OF AUTHORITY, AUTHORSHIP AND AGENDAS IN THE HUMAN REMAINS DEBATE by Karen Exell
12. MAKING AN EXHIBITION OF OURSELVES: USING THE DEAD TO FIGHT THE BATTLES OF THE LIVING by Tiffany Jenkins
13. TO GAZE UPON THE DEAD: THE EXHIBITION OF HUMAN REMAINS AS CULTURAL PRACTICE AND POLITICAL PROCESS IN SCANDINAVIA AND THE UNITED STATES by Liv Nilsson Stutz
14. FIRING THE IMAGINATION: CREMATION IN THE MUSEUM by Howard Williams
PART 3: DIALOGUES WITH THE DEAD
15. CONTEMPORARY PAGANS AND THE STUDY OF THE ANCESTORS by William Rathouse
16. “TOMB TO GIVE AWAY”: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GRAVES AND DEAD BODIES IN PRESENT-DAY AUSTRIA by Estella Weiss-Krejci
17. DIGGING THE DEAD IN A DIGITAL AGE by Duncan Sayer and Tony Walter
18. WRITING ABOUT DEATH, MOURNING AND EMOTION: ARCHAEOLOGY AND CREATIVITY by Trevor Kirk
19. RECONSTRUCTING DEATH: THE CHARIOT BURIALS OF IRON AGE EAST YORKSHIRE by Melanie Giles
PART IV: DEBATING THE DEAD
20. REFLECTIONS ON INTERSECTIONS OF MORTUARY ARCHAEOLOGY AND CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY by Lynne Goldstein