Exhumation may be defined as the legally sanctioned excavation and recovery of the remains of lawfully buried or – occasionally – cremated individuals, as distinct from forensic excavations of clandestinely buried remains conducted as part of a criminal investigation and from unlawful disinterment of human remains, commonly referred to as bodysnatching. The aim of this article is to review the role of exhumation – so defined – in the activities of CEMEL, the Medico-Legal Centre of the Ribeirão Preto Medical School-University of São Paulo, in international, regional and local collaborations. Exhumations form part of routine forensic anthropology casework; scientific research in physical and forensic anthropology; and forensic casework conducted in collaboration with the Brazilian Federal Police; and are carried out as part of humanitarian investigations into deaths associated with the civil–military dictatorship of 1964 to 1985. This article aims to offer a non-technical summary – with reference to international comparative information – of the role of exhumation in investigative and scientific work and to discuss developments in their historical and political context.
. Nowhere was this more evident than with the practice and representation of anatomy. The end of the 1820s saw heated public debates about the practice of bodysnatching and the social functions of anatomical knowledge. In contributing to these debates, practitioners in York, as elsewhere, projected a new vision of themselves which, shaped by the values of utilitarianism, presented medical practitioners as experts and public servants dedicated to the health and welfare of a newly imagined ‘social body’. As the epigraph from the Lancet suggests, the ‘character of graduated
. 39 The ‘Murder Act’ failed to provide the number of corpses needed by anatomists and failed to stem the practice of bodysnatching which had begun to emerge before 1752, and inflamed opposition to interference with the human dead. The reign of the bodysnatchers Unmet demand before and after the ‘Murder Act’ set the scene for the infamous practice of bodysnatching, that is
Law and healing is a colourful and critical account of the longstanding ‘marriage’ between two fundamental pillars of human society, law and medicine. The book addresses medico-legal history, exploring aspects of English law’s fascinating and sometimes acrimonious relationship with healing and healers. It challenges assumptions that medical law is new and that when law engaged with medicine, judges deferred to the ‘medical man’. It traces the regulation of healing from the dominance of the Church, and goes on to examine how the battles between different groups of lay ‘doctors’, physicians, surgeons and apothecaries were fought out in the law courts, the Royal Court and Parliament. Malpractice litigation and predictions of malpractice crises are shown to date back to the fourteenth century. Evidence of judicial deference is scant until late in the nineteenth century. Medical law today addresses moral dilemmas arising in medical practice and biomedical science. Considering historical perceptions of the human body from the womb to the grave, this work identifies themes persisting through medico-legal history and how history repeats itself. The book assesses both how English law responded to changes in ‘scientific’ understanding of bodies and how ‘science’, or what was thought to be science, influenced law. Bizarre theories about biology are seen to buttress laws of primogeniture and legal incapacities imposed on married women. The book considers how in the nineteenth century medical practitioners gradually acquired a strong voice in law-making on morals as much as medical practice.
broadside narratives. ‘Mary’s Ghost’, who announces that her body has been anatomized by body-snatchers, is a contemporary version of ‘William and Mary’, a ballad about a dead lover who returns to haunt his erstwhile partner; ‘Sally Simpkin’s Lament’, where the unfortunate John Jones is bitten in half by a shark, is a comic treatment of the ballad of ‘Bryan and Pereene’. Both ‘William and Mary’ and ‘Bryan and Pereene’ appear in Percy’s Reliques. Another of Hood’s grotesque poems about body-snatching, ‘Jack Hall’, also has roots in traditional street-ballad that have not
body. Beginning in the 1820s with the foundation of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, Chapter 4 looks at medical involvement in the provincial scientific movement, examining how local medical men positioned themselves relative to the so-called ‘march of intellect’, the cultural and ideological alignment between science and social reform. It then explores how, during 10 Performing medicine the debates over body-snatching and anatomical dissection which marked the late 1820s and early 1830s, medical practitioners came increasingly to claim social authority based
publicists. And, in applying a similar frame of analysis to British economic policy, we can see that its history shows a making and remaking of common sense which involves fully comparable exercises in ideological body-snatching. ‘Common sense’ and British economic policy 17 Thus it is not only the formal content of ideas that matters (though it does) but also the ‘social purchase’ that ideas achieve; and they do so within a context of historical change. When a poor boy, whose first instincts in politics have been primal socialism, rises to become a rich man who
‘Epilogue’ (see Kneale, 2001 : 456). In a sense, Potter’s racist ravings and grave robbing of Aboriginal bones are thus pre-programmed, at least for readers familiar with Knox’s personal history, that is, his best-selling The Races of Man (1850) and his implication in the Burke and Hare body-snatching and murder scandal of 1828. As do other neo-Victorian re-imaginings for stage and screen specifically focused on the Burke and Hare case, Kneale’s novel contributes to Knox’s reduction to a two-dimensional Gothic villain in
. 19 For a later example of continuation see Warren L. Oakley, A Culture of Mimicry: Laurence Sterne, His Readers, and the Art of Bodysnatching (London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2010). My thanks to the editors of this collection for suggestions on this point. 20
Wood’s Dickens and the Business of Death (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015 ) for an account of how Dickens explores a business of death consisting of, amongst other things, undertakers, joint-stock cemeteries and body-snatching. 16 Charles Dickens, ‘Capital Punishment’, The Daily News (16 March 1846), p