Museums deathscapes: geographies of the human remains store

Morton, S (2016) Museums deathscapes: geographies of the human remains store. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, 30 August - 2 September 2016, Royal Geographical Society, London, UK.


Over the last 30 years calls for the repatriation of the remains of Indigenous peoples, shifts in museum practice and wider socio-cultural changes around the meanings of the dead body have resulted in human remains becoming situated as culturally sensitive parts of museum collections. As part of this process human remains have been physically separated from other parts of the collections creating specific spaces within museums that are associated with the dead, and in which the concept of respectful treatment is demonstrated through behaviour and embodied practice. Focusing on research done in museums in the UK, Australia and New Zealand this paper applies the concept of deathscapes to these human remains stores, foregrounding the social meanings of these spaces and the role that the dead play within them. Examining these spaces through a spatial lens highlights that human remains in museums are not dissociated clinical objects but continue to be socially situated. Therefore by contrasting practices in human remain stores in the UK with the ancestral remains stores in Australia and New Zealand, the museum store as a place for grief, consolation and remembrance can be understood, and the social networks in which human remains act as a nexus are revealed.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2018 16:19
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:50
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