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Art and Human Remains – Roundtable

April 12, 2017 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

12 April 2017 | 15:30 – 17:00

The University of Edinburgh, ECA board room


A roundtable discussion of the ethics of artistic work with historic collections of human remains. TRACES is an exploration of the role of the arts in interrogating, bringing to light, and inviting a multi-layered and critical engagement with, the material legacy of difficult and contentious histories. Such an undertaking requires a critical reflection on arts practice and as a form of ethical engagement. Our particular concern is with collections of human remains deposited in the museums, Universities and other public institutions in Europe. These are now usually (although not invariably) held away from the public gaze, access being reserved for those who are deemed to be possess a legitimate interest. The questions which those attending this roundtable will be asked to consider is:


What is the role of the arts in facilitating a public engagement with historic collections of human remains and, in particular an engagement with the difficult histories of violence and appropriation that is disclosed in these collections?

In engaging with this material, in what ways does artistic practice risk being implicated within, and reproducing, the histories of violence that it is seeking to critique, and how do we mitigate this risk?

What ethical considerations should direct and inform the artistic engagement with historic collections of human remains?

What should be the role of source communities in these processes of artistic engagement and public awareness?



June Jones (Institute of Clinical Science, The University of Birmingham), Sharon MacDonald (Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Tal Adler (Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), chaired by John Harries (Social Anthropology, The University of Edinburgh)


More info at: Workshop Program



April 12, 2017
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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