The lives of kings, poets, authors, criminals, and celebrities are a perpetual fascination
in the media and popular culture, and for decades anthropologists and other scientists have participated in “postmortem dissections” of the lives of historical figures. In this field of biohistory, researchers have identified and analyzed these figures’ bodies using technologies such as DNA fingerprinting, biochemical assays, and skeletal biology. This book brings together biohistorical case studies for the first time, and considers the role of the anthropologist in writing the historical narratives surrounding the deceased.
Contributors theorize biohistory with respect to the sociology of the body, examining the ethical implications of biohistorical work and the diversity of social theoretical perspectives that researchers’ work may relate to. The volume defines scales of biohistorical engagement, providing readers with a critical sense of scale and the Different paths to “historical notoriety” that can emerge with respect to human remains.
1. Defining an Anthropological Biohistorical Research Agenda:
The History, Scale, and Scope of an Emerging Discipline
2. Autopsy of Past Leaders: What Do Remains Tell Us About Them?
3. Game of Thrones: Richard III and the Creation of Cultural Heritage
4. The Search for Don Francisco de Paula Marin: Servant, Friend, and Advisor to King Kamehameha I, Kingdom of Hawai‘i
5. Unearthing Robert Kennicott: Naturalist, Explorer, Smithsonian Scientist
6. The Influence of the Law on the Postmortem Narratives of Unknown Human Remains
7. The Biohistory of Prehistory: Mummies and the Forensic Creation of Identity
8. Talking Heads and Other Specters of the Mountain Meadows Massacre
9. Facial Reconstruction of Famous Historical Figures: Between Science and Art
10. The Probabilistic Basis for Identifying Individuals in Biohistorical Research
Title: Studies in Forensic Biohistory
Author: Pamela Mason, Tim Lang