This volume bridges the gap between forensic and cultural anthropology in how both disciplines describe and theorize the dead, highlighting the potential for interdisciplinary scholarship. As applied disciplines dealing with some of the most marginalized people in our society, forensic anthropologists have the potential to shed light on important and persistent social issues that we face today. Forensic anthropologists have successfully pursued research agendas primarily focused on the development of individual biological profiles, time since death, recovery, and identification. Few, however, have taken a step back from their lab bench to consider how and why people become forensic cases or place their work in a larger theoretical context. Thus, this volume challenges forensic anthropologists to reflect how we can use our toolkit and databases to address larger social issues and quandaries that we face in a world where some are spared from becoming forensic anthropology cases and others are not. As witnesses to violence, crimes against humanity, and the embodied consequences of structural violence, we have the opportunity—and arguably, the responsibility—to transcend the traditional medico-legal confines of our small sub-discipline, by synthesizing forensic anthropology casework into theoretically grounded social science with potentially transformative impacts at a global scale.
Jennifer F. Byrnes is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a consultant for the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner.
Iván Sandoval-Cervantes is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Animal Law and Policy Program at Harvard Law School.
Foreword by Zoë Crossland
Introduction by Jennifer F. Byrnes and Iván Sandoval-Cervantes
Part I: At the Border: International and Domestic Efforts Towards Identification
Chapter 1: Oral Pathologies as a Reflection of Structural Violence and Stigma Among Undocumented Migrants from Mexico and Central America by Angela Soler, Jared S. Beatrice, and Daniel E. Martínez
Chapter 2: Forgotten Spaces: The Structural Disappearance of Migrants in South Texas by Molly A. Kaplan, Courtney C. Siegert, Mariah E. Moe, Chloe P. McDaneld, and M. Kate Spradley
Chapter 3: Qué pena con usted: The Struggle for Victim Identification in Colombia by Elizabeth A. DiGangi and Daniela Santamaria Vargas
Chapter 4: Devaluing the Dead: The Role of Stigma in Medicolegal Death Investigations of Long-Term Missing and Unidentified Persons in the United States by Cate E. Bird and Jason D. P. Bird
Part II: At the Intersection: Social Identities and Forensic Anthropology
Chapter 5: Theorizing Social Marginalization for Forensic Anthropology: Insights from Medical Anthropology and Social Epidemiology by Allysha P. Winburn, Meredith G. Marten, Taylor Walkup, Enrique Plasencia, and Allison Hutson
Chapter 6: Disability, Disaster, Demography, and the Camp Fire Fatalities by Samuel Mijal and P. Willey
Chapter 7: Gender Identities and Intersectional Violence Within Forensic Anthropology by Jaxson D. Haug
Chapter 8: Marginalization, Death, and Decline: The Role of Forensic Anthropology in Documenting the Osteology of Poverty and Evidence of Structural Violence in Detroit, Michigan in the 21st Century by Megan K. Moore and Jaymelee J. Kim
Chapter 9: A Social Autopsy of Honolulu, Hawaiʻi: Forensic Anthropology Case Files as an Archive of Marginalization by Jennifer F. Byrnes, William R. Belcher, and Katharine C. Woollen
Chapter 10: Identification of the Korean War Dead: Family Reference Samples at the Intersection of Race, Class, and Structural Vulnerability by Briana T. New, Paulina Domínguez Acosta, Janet E. Finlayson, Amanda N. Friend, Matthew C. Go, Amanda Hale, Sadé J. Johnson, Devin N. Williams, Jennie Jin
Chapter 11: A Multidisciplinary Perspective on the Role of Marginalization in the Identification of Opioid Users in Medicolegal Investigations by Janna M. Andronowski and Randi M. Depp
Taken collectively, the chapters in this volume effectively demonstrate how a forensic anthropology informed by social theorizing makes visible violences (political, structural, symbolic, everyday, posthumous) experienced by certain marginalized and vulnerable groups. Authors’ case studies—about undocumented migrants, rural villagers, gender-diverse individuals, the urban poor and houseless, victims of natural disaster, deceased military personnel, opioid users—are sure to instigate needed policy changes, as well as help realize a praxis that is more compassionate and ethical.
A superb collection of essays making an important and timely connection between forensics and cultural anthropology. The Marginalized in Death pushes our understanding of the lives of vulnerable populations in new directions while simultaneously making the much needed argument that we can no longer imagine a forensic science that is not in deep conversation with ethnography.
This committed group of scholars and scientists explores the many reasons why some bodies are more vulnerable than others to preventable deaths, disappearance, and erasure--including the erasure of histories, identities, and basic dignity through forensic casework. In response, they offer clear, necessary steps towards more ethical deathwork and more rigorous ways of knowing the dead.
This field-defining volume demonstrates how forensic anthropology is uniquely positioned as both a tool for making visible direct violence perpetrated against the living and a discipline capable of revealing how more insidious forms of violence—structural violence, postmortem violence, and the violence of stigmatization—harm entire communities long before and long after death. The insights regarding how violence operates and how it changes the human body make this a must-read for scholars of mass violence, medical anthropology, and the sociology of health and illness.