"Not of one’s body": The creation of identified skeletal collections with Portuguese human remains

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Abstract

This chapter will explore how identified skeletal collections are built using unclaimed human remains from modern cemeteries in Portugal. The custom of collecting unclaimed human remains is an old practice in Portugal, dating back to the late nineteenth century. Several institutions in Portugal currently house five identified collections, which contain complete skeletons. These are housed at the Universities of Coimbra, Porto, and Évora, and the Museum of Natural History of Lisbon. The Coimbra and Lisbon collections have become synonymous with scientific excellence in research worldwide. However, the scientific acknowledgment of the importance of these collections contrasts with the almost absent discussion on the ethical and legal issues associated with the collections, and the use of unclaimed human remains from modern cemeteries in science. Therefore, this chapter hopes to highlight the need for conversation on the topic, which is a pressing necessity since this practice, i.e. the collection of unclaimed remains from modern cemeteries, is not limited to Portugal and identified collections worldwide are a valuable resource amongst the scientific community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthical Approaches to Human Remains
Subtitle of host publicationA Global Challenge in Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology
EditorsKaren Squires, David Errickson, Nicholas Marquez-Grant
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherSpringer
Pages503-518
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-32926-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-32925-9
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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