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Joachim Neander

During the Second World War and its aftermath, the legend was spread that the Germans turned the bodies of Holocaust victims into soap stamped with the initials RIF, falsely interpreted as made from pure Jewish fat. In the years following liberation, RIF soap was solemnly buried in cemeteries all over the world and came to symbolise the six million killed in the Shoah, publicly showing the determination of Jewry to never forget the victims. This article will examine the funerals that started in Bulgaria and then attracted several thousand mourners in Brazil and Romania, attended by prominent public personalities and receiving widespread media coverage at home and abroad. In 1990 Yad Vashem laid the Jewish soap legend to rest, and today tombstones over soap graves are falling into decay with new ones avoiding the word soap. RIF soap, however, is alive in the virtual world of the Internet and remains fiercely disputed between believers and deniers.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Deaths and politicised deaths in Buenos Aires’s refuse
Mariano D. Perelman

The appearance of corpses in rubbish tips is not a recent phenomenon. In Argentina, tips have served not only as sites for the disposal of bodies but also as murder scenes. Many of these other bodies found in such places belong to individuals who have suffered violent deaths, which go on to become public issues, or else are ‘politicised deaths’. Focusing on two cases that have received differing degrees of social, political and media attention – Diego Duarte, a 15-year-old boy from a poor background who went waste-picking on an open dump and never came back, and Ángeles Rawson, a girl of 16 murdered in the middle-class neighbourhood of Colegiales, whose body was found in the same tip – this article deals with the social meanings of bodies that appear in landfills. In each case, there followed a series of events that placed a certain construction on the death – and, more importantly, the life – of the victim. Corpses, once recognised, become people, and through this process they are given new life. It is my contention that bodies in rubbish tips express – and configure – not only the limits of the social but also, in some cases, the limits of the human itself.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Jacques Gerstenkorn

This article describes the powerplay around the recent discovery (summer 2015) of eighteenth-century Jewish graves in the French city of Lyon. Prior to the French Revolution, Jews had no right to have their own cemeteries, and the corpses of the deceased were buried in the basement of the local catholic hospital, the Hôtel- Dieu. In recent years this centrally located building was completely renovated and converted into a retail complex selling luxury brands. The discovery and subsequent identification of the graves – and of some human remains – led to a complex confrontation between various actors: archaeologists, employed either by the municipality or by the state; religious authorities (mostly Lyons chief rabbi); the municipality itself; the private construction companies involved; direct descendants of some of the Jews buried in the hospital‘s basement; as well as the local media. The question of what to do with the graves took centre stage, and while exhumations were favoured by both archaeologists and the representatives of the families, the chief rabbi – supported by the construction companies – proved reluctant to exhume, for religious reasons. In the first part of his article the author details the origins of this Jewish funerary place and current knowledge about it. He then goes on to analyse what was at stake in the long negotiations, arguing that the memory of the Holocaust played a role in the attitude of many of the parties involved. By way of conclusion he considers the decision not to exhume the graves and elaborates on the reasons why this led to some dissatisfaction.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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Museums and the future of curatorship

What is the future of curatorial practice? How can the relationships between Indigenous people in the Pacific, collections in Euro-American institutions and curatorial knowledge in museums globally be (re)conceptualised in reciprocal and symmetrical ways? Is there an ideal model, a ‘curatopia’, whether in the form of a utopia or dystopia, which can enable the reinvention of ethnographic museums and address their difficult colonial legacies? This volume addresses these questions by considering the current state of the play in curatorial practice, reviewing the different models and approaches operating in different museums, galleries and cultural organisations around the world, and debating the emerging concerns, challenges and opportunities. The subject areas range over native and tribal cultures, anthropology, art, history, migration and settler culture, among others. Topics covered include: contemporary curatorial theory, new museum trends, models and paradigms, the state of research and scholarship, the impact of new media and current issues such as curatorial leadership, collecting and collection access and use, exhibition development and community engagement. The volume is international in scope and covers three broad regions – Europe, North America and the Pacific. The contributors are leading and emerging scholars and practitioners in their respective fields, all of whom have worked in and with universities and museums, and are therefore perfectly placed to reshape the dialogue between academia and the professional museum world.

Approaching social and technological change in human society

This book is the first monograph-length investigation of innovation and the innovation process from an archaeological perspective. We live in a world where innovation, innovativeness, creativity, and invention are almost laughably over-used buzzwords. Yet comparatively little research has been carried out on the long-term history of innovation beyond and before the Industrial Revolution. This monograph offers both a response and a sort of answer to the wider trans-disciplinary dialogue on innovation, invention, and technological and social change. The idea of innovation that permeates our popular media and our political and scientific discourse is set against the long-term perspective that only archaeology can offer in dialogue with a range of social theory about the development of new technologies and social structures. The book offers a new version of the story of human inventiveness from our earliest hominin ancestors to the present day. In doing so, it challenges the contemporary lionization of disruptive technologies, while also setting the post-Industrial-Revolution innovation boom into a deeper temporal and wider cultural context. It argues that the present narrow focus on pushing the adoption of technical innovations ignores the complex interplay of social, technological, and environmental systems that underlies truly innovative societies; the inherent connections between new technologies, technologists, and social structure that give them meaning and make them valuable; and the significance and value of conservative social practices that lead to the frequent rejection of innovations.

Art, process, archaeology

This book presents a study of material images and asks how an appreciation of the making and unfolding of images and art alters archaeological accounts of prehistoric and historic societies. With contributions focusing on case studies including prehistoric Britain, Scandinavia, Iberia, the Americas and Dynastic Egypt, and including contemporary reflections on material images, it makes a novel contribution to ongoing debates relating to archaeological art and images. The book offers a New Materialist analysis of archaeological imagery, with an emphasis on considering the material character of images and their making and unfolding. The book reassesses the predominantly representational paradigm of archaeological image analysis and argues for the importance of considering the ontology of images. It considers images as processes or events and introduces the verb ‘imaging’ to underline the point that images are conditions of possibility that draw together differing aspects of the world. The book is divided into three sections: ‘Emergent images’, which focuses on practices of making; ‘Images as process’, which examines the making and role of images in prehistoric societies; and ‘Unfolding images’, which focuses on how images change as they are made and circulated. The book features contributions from archaeologists, Egyptologists, anthropologists and artists. The contributors to the book highlight the multiple role of images in prehistoric and historic societies, demonstrating that archaeologists need to recognise the dynamic and changeable character of images.

An epistemology of postcolonial debate
Larissa Förster and Friedrich von Bose

institutional setting, the curatorial voice, and the infrastructure and media employed in its production, all have an impact on the way in which visitors make sense of the ‘content’ and foster or impede certain perceptions and understandings. We need to continue the debate on decolonising ethnological museums (or, in fact, any museum) with the same sensibility in terms of how it is shaped by the sites, structures and media that constitute it. As a consequence, we might have to experiment with the formats through which we engage with each other so that they enable both

in Curatopia
Catherine J. Frieman

-staged process deeply embedded in networks of personal and professional relationships that may or may not lead to successful implementation. Upon introduction to a new product or process, people investigate: they test it out, observe how it operates, make assessments about its complexity and relative advantage, discuss it with colleagues or peers, compare it to other new or pre-existing technologies or processes, and engage with media or expert opinions about it (Shih and Venkatesh 2004 ). Yet, far from being an easily predictable process, these observations are qualitative

in An archaeology of innovation
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Ian Dawson

, the act of performing RTI is processual in itself. Both the data capture stage and the image viewing phase involve complex intra-actions between environment, camera, object, image, computer and operator (Jones and Smith 2017). In this instance the Folkton Drums were thrust into the limelight, caught in the glare, their faces startled by the media spotlight, continuing the arc of their exhumation: ‘An artificial “exhibition of firelight” where the living commemorate the annual return of the departed from the land of the shades’ (Stafford and Terpak 2001). Limelight

in Images in the making
Vilsoni Hereniko

an exhibition. This means that the museum would have to go to them, in a virtual 329 330 Afterwords sense, and via the Internet. After all, the new technologies are products as well as agents of cultural change.4 How could social media, especially Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, be harnessed to disseminate information about the holdings of Pacific materials in North American and European museums? How could ordinary persons who cannot travel but have access to the Internet participate in discussions and debates about these cultural treasures that are a part of

in Curatopia