Title

Ethical Curation of Human Skeletal Remains at CWU

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Event Website

https://source2022.sched.com/

Start Date

19-5-2022

End Date

19-5-2022

Keywords

Curation, Skeletal Remains, Ethics

Abstract

At Central Washington University, the Anthropology and Museum Studies Department is in possession of a number of commingled human skeletal remains from an unknown number of individuals, and stored in the Forensics Lab for teaching purposes. Recently, controversy has arisen over the ethics of keeping human remains at academic institutions. The aim of this study was to catalog and analyze the remains at CWU, for the purposes of knowledge and safekeeping in an ethical manner. This involves composing a biological profile of said remains, including sexing, aging, ancestry, and stature of bones when applicable. A thorough inventory, measurement, labelling, and a rating of completeness with accordance with standard protocols, was also conducted. It is important to remember that at the forefront of this research that these bones belonged to a once living person, and therefore need to be treated with respect and dignity. The goal of this research is to handle these remains with care, and establish an ethical curation of said remains, so future academics may continue to learn from them while maintaining the dignity they deserve. This is important since these remains are handled on a weekly basis by students who are just beginning their academic careers. Establishing an ethical curation of this human skeletal remain collection is vital for the continued future use of this collection for educational and research purposes.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Nicole Jastremski

Department/Program

Anthropology & Museum Studies

Additional Mentoring Department

Anthropology & Museum Studies

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Ethical Curation of Human Skeletal Remains at CWU

At Central Washington University, the Anthropology and Museum Studies Department is in possession of a number of commingled human skeletal remains from an unknown number of individuals, and stored in the Forensics Lab for teaching purposes. Recently, controversy has arisen over the ethics of keeping human remains at academic institutions. The aim of this study was to catalog and analyze the remains at CWU, for the purposes of knowledge and safekeeping in an ethical manner. This involves composing a biological profile of said remains, including sexing, aging, ancestry, and stature of bones when applicable. A thorough inventory, measurement, labelling, and a rating of completeness with accordance with standard protocols, was also conducted. It is important to remember that at the forefront of this research that these bones belonged to a once living person, and therefore need to be treated with respect and dignity. The goal of this research is to handle these remains with care, and establish an ethical curation of said remains, so future academics may continue to learn from them while maintaining the dignity they deserve. This is important since these remains are handled on a weekly basis by students who are just beginning their academic careers. Establishing an ethical curation of this human skeletal remain collection is vital for the continued future use of this collection for educational and research purposes.

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source/2022/COTS/86