the removal of long-dead hman bodies from view in museums for reburial is based on a warped notion of respect.
“No one disputes that the bodies of the dead should be treated with respect and in a dignified manner. And no one disputes that bodies of indigenous people have often been removed from their place of burial in ways that resemble theft.”
“For a body that was not stolen from an indigenous group the relevant question becomes: “Are any of the things we are doing to this body showing a lack of respect?” We can only answer this question based on our own understanding of respect. It is easy to come up with examples of actions that show a lack of respect, such as playing football with a skull. But none of these examples relate even remotely to the kinds of scientific exploration archaeologists perform, or to what goes on in modern museums.”
“What, then, about a stolen indigenous body? Here we again need to distinguish between identified and anonymous bodies. Descendants may have a strong claim to have their “grandmother” repatriated, but it is much less obvious that a culturally affiliated group’s claim for repatriation of an anonymous body is of the same strength.”
complete article posted in the new scientist