History

Open Access (free)

Pieces of people in the Pavlovian

Burials, body parts and bones in the earlier Upper Palaeolithic

Erik Trinkaus, Sandra Sázelová and Jiří Svoboda

The rich earlier Mid Upper Palaeolithic (Pavlovian) sites of Dolní Vĕstonice I and II and Pavlov I (∼32,000–∼30,000 cal BP) in southern Moravia (Czech Republic) have yielded a series of human burials, isolated pairs of extremities and isolated bones and teeth. The burials occurred within and adjacent to the remains of structures (‘huts’), among domestic debris. Two of them were adjacent to mammoth bone dumps, but none of them was directly associated with areas of apparent discard (or garbage). The isolated pairs and bones/teeth were haphazardly scattered through the occupation areas, many of them mixed with the small to medium-sized faunal remains, from which many were identified post-excavation. It is therefore difficult to establish a pattern of disposal of the human remains with respect to the abundant evidence for site structure at these Upper Palaeolithic sites. At the same time, each form of human preservation raises questions about the differential mortuary behaviours, and hence social dynamics, of these foraging populations and how we interpret them through an archaeological lens.

Open Access (free)
Open Access (free)

Discarding used organic samples in a forensic lab

The manifold materialities of human remains

Claudia Fonseca and Rodrigo Grazinoli Garrido

In this article we explore the relational materiality of fragments of human cadavers used to produce DNA profiles of the unidentified dead at a forensic genetics police laboratory in Rio de Janeiro. Our point of departure is an apparently simple problem: how to discard already tested materials in order to open up physical space for incoming tissue samples. However, during our study we found that transforming human tissues and bone fragments into disposable trash requires a tremendous institutional investment of energy, involving negotiations with public health authorities, criminal courts and public burial grounds. The dilemma confronted by the forensic genetic lab suggests not only how some fragments are endowed with more personhood than others, but also how the very distinction between human remains and trash depends on a patchwork of multiple logics that does not necessarily perform according to well-established or predictable scripts.

Open Access (free)

Philippe Lefranc and Fanny Chenal

Among the numerous human remains found in circular pits belonging to the fourth millennium BCE cultures north of the Alps, there are many examples of bodies laid in random (or unconventional) positions. Some of these remains in irregular configurations, interred alongside an individual in a conventional flexed position, can be considered as a ‘funerary accompaniment’. Other burials, of isolated individuals or multiple individuals buried in unconventional positions, suggest the existence of burial practices outside of the otherwise strict framework of funerary rites. The focus of this article is the evidence recently arising from excavation and anthropological studies from the Upper Rhine Plain (Michelsberg and Munzingen cultures). We assume that these bodies in unconventional positions were not dumped as trash, but that they were a part of the final act of a complex ritual. It is hypothesised that these bodies, interpreted here as ritual waste, were sacrificial victims, and a number of possible explanations, including ‘peripheral accompaniment’ or victims of acts of war, are debated.

Open Access (free)

The clandestine cemetery

Burying the victims of Europe’s border in a Tunisian coastal town

Valentina Zagaria

The Mediterranean Sea has recently become the deadliest of borders for illegalised travellers. The victims of the European Union’s liquid border are also found near North African shores. The question of how and where to bury these unknown persons has recently come to the fore in Zarzis, a coastal town in south-east Tunisia. Everyone involved in these burials – the coastguards, doctors, Red Crescent volunteers, municipality employees – agree that what they are doing is ‘wrong’. It is neither dignified nor respectful to the dead, as the land used as a cemetery is an old waste dump, and customary attitudes towards the dead are difficult to realise. This article will first trace how this situation developed, despite the psychological discomfort of all those affected. It will then explore how the work of care and dignity emerges within this institutional chain, and what this may tell us about what constitutes the concept of the human.

Open Access (free)

Trudi Buck, Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Suzanne Schot

Open Access (free)

Bodies in the tip

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.

Open Access (free)

Series:

Martin D. Moore

This chapter outlines how diabetes re-emerged as a concern of central government during the late 1970s, setting the scene for the move of managed care from clinical settings to policy arenas. It does so by examining the tribulations of efforts to secure Department for Health and Social Security funding for retinopathy screening and photocoagulation treatment trials between 1977 and 1985. The trials were by no means the biggest intervention that central government made into diabetes care during the 1970s and 1980s. Examining their history, however, reveals the ways in which post-war policy networks developed in relation to diabetes, and the shifting ways in which they framed diabetes to garner government attention in a period of considerable economic and political change. Crucially, underpinning debates about the trials were new concepts of risk management, disease prevention, and standard-setting that became central to policy discussions of diabetes care and managed medicine at the end of the century.

Open Access (free)

Managing diabetes, managing medicine

Chronic disease and clinical bureaucracy in post-war Britain

Series:

Martin D. Moore

Through a study of diabetes care in post-war Britain, this book is the first historical monograph to explore the emergence of managed medicine within the National Health Service. Much of the extant literature has cast the development of systems for structuring and reviewing clinical care as either a political imposition in pursuit of cost control or a professional reaction to state pressure. By contrast, Managing Diabetes, Managing Medicine argues that managerial medicine was a co-constructed venture between profession and state. Despite possessing diverse motives – and though clearly influenced by post-war Britain’s rapid political, technological, economic, and cultural changes – general practitioners (GPs), hospital specialists, national professional and patient bodies, a range of British government agencies, and influential international organisations were all integral to the creation of managerial systems in Britain. By focusing on changes within the management of a single disease at the forefront of broader developments, this book ties together innovations across varied sites at different scales of change, from the very local programmes of single towns to the debates of specialists and professional leaders in international fora. Drawing on a broad range of archival materials, published journals, and medical textbooks, as well as newspapers and oral histories, Managing Diabetes, Managing Medicine not only develops fresh insights into the history of managed healthcare, but also contributes to histories of the NHS, medical professionalism, and post-war government more broadly.

Open Access (free)

Series:

Martin D. Moore

This chapter explores the formal emergence of local systems of managed diabetes care, and situates them in relation to tools used to integrate hospital clinics and primary care into shared care arrangements. The respatialisation of care in the 1970s and 1980s, together with a growing emphasis on surveillance and blood glucose control, raised questions about how patient care could be effectively co-ordinated. In response, GPs and specialists drew upon a rich culture of regulatory bureaucracy within British medicine and mobilised a combination of tools – from recall systems and medical records to local care protocols – to regulate the timing, nature and content of medical engagements. These tools embodied an increasingly standard view of ‘good diabetes care’, and inherently ordered medical labour. The implicit politics of these instruments, however, became explicit within in a context of mounting political and professional concerns about professional competence, and in relation to concerns about the deputation of care to previously inexperienced practitioners. Especially once practitioners began to use standards to audit care, this ‘technology of quality’ subjected routine practice to a novel form of bureaucratic management and provided new forms of evidence for later national initiatives.