This article considers the contexts and processes of forensic identification in 2004
post-tsunami Thailand as examples of identity politics. The presence of international
forensic teams as carriers of diverse technical expertise overlapped with
bureaucratic procedures put in place by the Thai government. The negotiation of
unified forensic protocols and the production of estimates of identified nationals
straddle biopolitics and thanatocracy. The immense identification task testified on
the one hand to an effort to bring individual bodies back to mourning families and
national soils, and on the other hand to determining collective ethnic and national
bodies, making sense out of an inexorable and disordered dissolution of corporeal as
well as political boundaries. Individual and national identities were the subject of
competing efforts to bring order to,the chaos, reaffirming the cogency of the body
politic by mapping national boundaries abroad. The overwhelming forensic effort
required by the exceptional circumstances also brought forward the socio-economic and
ethnic disparities of the victims, whose post-mortem treatment and identification
traced an indelible divide between us and them.
debates on race, nationalidentity and cultural politics. But what we can note is their belief that the past had the power to answer such questions, mobilising the remains in their care to address them. Another country keen to search for its nation’s origins among the prehistoric dead was Denmark.
Queens, sailors and ne’er do-wells: naming the dead
The discovery of Haraldskjær Woman in 1835, in eastern Denmark, was initially reported by the district physician in matter-of-fact terms. He described her physiognomy (middle-aged, rather corpulent), her teeth (well
experiences of Chinese, Dutch, Indian, Italian and Scottish migrants. The first and
only exhibition about daily life was On the Sheep’s Back, which I worked
on as concept developer, about the many stories of wool in New Zealand
life, including many everyday objects. The third exhibition in the suite was
an original take on the thorny question of nationalidentity, which I also
worked on. Exhibiting Ourselves reproduced in individual gallery spaces the
New Zealand courts at selected International Exhibitions and Expos from
the Crystal Palace in 1851 to the 1992 Seville Expo
circulated outside of the region, in this case in Belgium and the Netherlands
(1993–1994).24 These tours were sponsored by the Peruvian or Colombian
governments and coincided with major cultural initiatives,25 which acted
as ‘intricate, multilayered engines of global diplomacy’.26 These spectacular blockbuster exhibitions, from their lenders’ points of view, attempted
to garner national prestige, project a glorious past, reassert culture as the
cornerstone of nationalidentity and promote commercial interest, thereby
making them an integral part of soft diplomacy
construct, largely framed in opposition to an amorphous, non-authentic or innovative Other, and frequently weaponized by the colonial/capitalist gaze. What is authentic might be what is traditional, but it might also be what is deemed to be original or most clearly metonymous of the larger cultural whole. The authentic thing is a powerful tool constructed to do work, be that the assertion of a nationalidentity or the representation of a colonized people. Yet, the authentic is not thick narrative, but a simplified story with a diminished cast of characters. Archaeologists
and dangerous. It weakened personality, fostered self-righteousness, impeded maturity, promoted epigonism, and developed both cynicism and egoism via self-irony (Nietzsche 1874 (German): Vorwort, Chapter 8, 10; 2005 (English): Preface p. 3f, Chapter VIII 47ff, Chapter X 65ff).
Another widespread analogy is with religion – also meant in an unfavourable sense. The whole sphere of history, memory, and heritage can be seen as a civil religion with relics and rituals, a religion that creates cohesion around the nation and a nationalidentity. Museums are compared
physical construction of a new museum building and new galleries
were thus to be rooted in four years of systematic emotional and epistemological, personal and institutional self-reflection and reconstruction before
the opening at the end of 2004.16
As national museums do, the new Museum of World Culture was to
play its part in the building of nationalidentity, positioning Sweden within
an increasing global interdependence and interconnectivity, and contribu
ting to cultural cohesion within the rapidly diversifying demographics.
However, positioning the museum beyond
Pluralism and the politics of change in Canada’s national museums
Ruth B. Phillips
demonstrate this kind of
museological arrhythmia because they unfolded during the Harper years yet
did not reflect that government’s ideological positions. Rather, they manifest the currents of pluralism, decolonisation and globalisation that have
been gaining in strength throughout the past half century.
The Canadian War Museum: four stories of 1812
The first of my three episodes concerns an exhibition commemorating a
rather obscure war that became the centrepiece of a federal governmentfunded celebration which redefined it as an originating moment of Canada’s
11 See Macura, 1983 for an excellent analysis of the significance of language
to Czech nationalism.
12 Francouzský institut v Praze/L’Institut français de Prague.
13 L’Institut d’études slaves.
14 Particularly given the centrality of language to both French and Czechoslovak
nationalidentity, such foreign-language gymnasia were inherently cultural
diplomatic institutions. Gymnasia are the equivalent of high schools.
15 Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech
Republic, Prague (hereafter, MÚA AV ČR), Antonín Salač, inventory
purpose of this modernisation is that by being renewed or made topical, the World Heritage site will remain useful in the face of current requirements – and will therefore also stand a realistic chance to live on for the benefit of future generations. Present-day needs may be to do with knowledge, on-site experiencing, or ethics. They may involve nationalidentity or experience tourism. The modernisation of a World Heritage site brings it into the present. The same process also applies to large parts of heritage in general, which are being adapted to the role of