In Their Presence: Debates on the dignity, display, and ownership of human remains

A collaboration with

Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life

This series of five panels over academic year 2020-2021 brought together leading international voices in areas of forensic ethics to address the materiality of post-life, organized by Diane O’Donoghue (Tisch College) and Bridget Conley (WPF). All events were virtual, free, & open to the public.

This speaker series was made possible through the support of Tufts Collaborates Seed Grant Program/Tufts Springboard, The Diversity Fund and the World Peace Foundation.

More complete information for all speakers can be found here

Session One: De-Colonized ‘Objects’

October 29, 2020 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST 

Video of the Event

Ciraj Rassool

Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape and director of the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies.

“Rehumanising the Dead of Anthropology: Museums and Society after Colonialism”

Vernelda Grant

Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona.

“On Cultural Heritage and Museum Objects.”

Session Two: Recovery and Reclamation

November 18, 2020 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST

video of the event

Sarah Wagner

Associate Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University.

“What Remains: Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War”

Adam Rosenblatt

Associate Professor of the Practice in International Comparative Studies at Duke University, and Board Member of the Friends of Geer Cemetery.

“Ways of Knowing a Neglected Cemetery, Ways of Knowing the Dead”

Session Three: The ‘Life’ of Museum Objects

Thursday, February 11, 2021 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST

Ingrid Neuman

Museum Conservator at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

“On Conservation of Human Remains as Museum Objects.”

Steven Lubar

Professor of American Studies, History, History of Art and Architecture at Brown University.

“Multiple Matters that Determine the Life of Museum Objects.”

Zuzanna Dziuban

Senior Postdoc at the Institute for Culture Studies and Theatre History of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in the ERC Consolidator Project: “Globalized Memorial Museums: Exhibiting Atrocities in the Era of Claims for Moral Universals.”

 “Governing Ashes: The Ethics, Politics and Material Survivance of Incinerated Human Remains.”

Session Four: Mourning Remains

March 16, 2021 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST

Isaias Rojas-Perez

Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers-Newark.

“Mourning Remains: State Atrocity, Exhumations, and Governing the Disappeared in Peru’s Postwar Andes.”

Julia Viebach

Departmental Lecturer in African Studies at the African Studies Centre of Oxford University.

“‘Where the Bodies Sleep’: Of Place, Ritual and Human Remains at Rwanda’s Genocide Memorials.”

Session Five: The political economy, ethics and practices of displaying human remains

April 14, 2021 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST

Panel 1: Commodities and What Remain

Elisabeth Anstett

Social Anthropologist, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Université d’Aix-Marseille.

“On the Necroeconomy”

Stephenie Young

Professor in the English Department and Research Associate for the Salem State University (SSU) Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

“Trash Aesthetics: Obscured Scenographies of Violence at the U.S./Mexican Border.”

Ereshnee NaiduSilverman

Senior Director for the Global Transitional Justice Initiative of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

“Reflections on the practice and practicalities of displaying human remains”