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Theodore Cruz
Theodore Cruz

The Taking And Displaying Of Human Body Parts A...



The practice of human trophy collecting involves the acquisition of human body parts as trophy, usually as war trophy. The intent may be to demonstrate dominance over the deceased (such as scalp-taking or forming necklaces of severed ears or teeth), to humiliate or intimidate the enemy (such as shrunken heads or skull cups), or in some rare cases to commemorate the deceased (such as the veneration of the relics of saints). It can be done to prove one's body count in battle,[1] to boast one's prowess and achievements to peers,[2] or as a status symbol of superior masculinity[citation needed]. Psychopathic serial murderers' collection of their victims' body parts have also been described as a form of trophy-taking.




The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts a...



In North America, it was common practice before, during or after the lynching of African-Americans for the European Americans involved to take souvenirs such as body parts, skin, bones, genitalia, etc.[6][7]


In addition to human body parts appearing in museums and artifact collections in the explicit context of historical conquest, they are also included for both putative and actual scientific reasons, particularly scientific racism establishing justification for dominance over subject races. The body of William Lanne, the last "full-blooded" Tasmanian Aboriginal man, was mutilated after his death in 1869 by William Crowther[12] who later became the Premier of Tasmania, and Lanne's skull was sent to the Royal College of Surgeons in London to supposedly demonstrate "the improvement that takes place in the lower race when subjected to the effects of education and civilisation".[13] Crowther's mutilation of Lanne proved immensely controversial in Tasmania.[14]


During the German Empire's Herero and Namaqua genocide in German South West Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century, specimens of African body parts were obtained and taken to German museums and academic institutions, in some instances in the aftermath of medical experimentation on human subjects.[15] In 2011, when some of these items were returned to present-day Namibia, the rector of the University of Freiburg referred to the period of their acquisition as "one of the dark chapters in the history of European science".[16] Later in the century the Jewish skull collection and other medical resources were the result of Nazi Germany's human experimentation programs and other elements of the Holocaust.


What this collection demonstrates is that the practice of trophy-taking predates European contact in the Americas but was also practiced in other parts of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia) and has been practiced prehistorically, historically and up to and including the twentieth century.


This edited volume mainly focuses on this practice in both North and South America. The editors and contributors (which include Native Peoples from both continents) examine the evidence and causes of Amerindian trophy taking as reflected in osteological, archaeological, ethnohistoric and ethnographic accounts. Additionally, they present objectively and discuss dispassionately the topic of human proclivity toward ritual violence.


This powerful exhibition explores life by displaying real, perfectly preserved human bodies and more anatomical specimens. More than a simple display of human specimens, REAL BODIES will connect audiences to a deeper sense of what it means to be alive.


This powerful exhibition explores life by displaying real, perfectly preserved human bodies and more than 200 anatomical specimens. More than a simple display of human specimens, REAL BODIES will connect audiences to a deeper sense of what it means to be alive. Founded on anatomical, cultural, and emotional narratives, the exhibition transforms the way we view the mysterious organism we all share - the human body - and reminds us of all the complexity and magic within us that we often take for granted. REAL BODIES digs deeper into the beauty of the body, mind, and soul than any other exhibition of its kind, and invites you to explore the entire human experience from the first breath to the last.


Clearly, the origins of archaeology were rife with what we would now consider to be grave robbery. With the fall of Nazism in the mid-20th century came the rise of Civil Rights and a turn of public opinion against the concept of white supremacy. What followed was a drastic change of policy towards the collection and display of pilfered artifacts and human remains2. Permission to display existing collections was sought from their countries and cultures of origin. As mentioned, many museums have at least begun to return artifacts and remains from Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australia, but Egyptian mummies were not often repatriated. The infrequent requests for the return of Egyptian artifacts and mummies were aimed towards displaying these pieces of history in Egyptian museums, rather than for the purposes of proper burial or return of remains to families2. Now, most human remains in museums (including the bog bodies I mentioned earlier) were disinterred and displayed with the permission of descendants, the individual, or the government where the remains were discovered in the case of ancient remains4.


Australian states and territories have their own regulations for the collection of human remains. Some also include directives for their display. It is then up to museums to develop policies for publicly displaying human remains. In short, museums should provide statements about the provenance of displayed bodies to avoid misleading the public.


Australia has a chequered history of collecting and displaying human remains. In the 19th century, Australian universities began to collect specimens of human anatomy and pathology. These formed an important part of medical education. However doctors and anatomists often took body parts from corpses without consent from the family or previously obtained from the person, and flouted regulation and convention to add interesting specimens to university collections.


University collections were not open to the public. They were only for medical students and researchers to learn about the human body and the diseases that affect it. Although several protests took place in the 19th century about the practice, Australian medical schools continued to collect human remains throughout the 20th century for educational purposes, but now with some of these ethical considerations in mind.


The phenomenon, starting in the mid-1990s, of the commercialized public display of dissected plastinated human bodies and body parts, characteristically including bodies displayed in "life-like" poses.


Displays of plastinated bodies as defined above, which started in the 1990s with the development of the plastination technique and the exhibition of plastinated whole-body mounts by German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, are now a worldwide phenomenon. Many others have started similar businesses and there are now both travelling exhibitions in many parts of the world, and a permanent museum in Berlin ("Menschenmuseum" [museum of man]).


Apart from the question of transparent informed consent, these questions cannot always be answered with a simple yes or no. It remains difficult to clearly define a threshold that determines if a given exhibition becomes ethically unacceptable. FICEM is concerned that the major purpose of such exhibitions, apart from financial gain, may be sensationalism and voyeurism. When the dead human body is made an object of commerce or morbid curiosity, the dignity of the deceased is at stake. The reputation of anatomy as a discipline and of plastination as a preservation technique depends on respect for the dignity of the deceased and their body.


All aspects of the IFAA "Recommendations of good practice for the donation and study of human bodies and tissues for anatomical examination" apply to this specific practice of using dead human bodies for anatomical purposes. Following these recommendations, the display of plastinated bodies is unethical if there is no individual informed consent of the deceased during their lifetime, based on their free decision and documented in writing. It should also be noted that sometimes, the term "body donation" is used in an unclear way, relating to "donation" by entire communities, or by institutions or firms. Donation in the sense of the IFAA Recommendations must always refer to a bequest by an individual. Such informed consent will have to include consent to the intended "range of uses of donated bodies" (point 9b of the Recommendations), i.e. in this case information about the intended forms of public display (see also below). To be able to demonstrate that all exhibition items are based on voluntary body donation, it must be possible at all times to trace back every specimen to the related individual donor (point 8d of the Recommendations).


As the IFAA Recommendations and many laws around the world stipulate with good reason, the dead human body should not be made an object of commerce. Commercialisation has to be assumed as a significant aim of vendors if a trade of bodies or body parts is established, and/or if individual persons or firms draw financial gain from using dead bodies for anatomical purposes.


There is indeed a blurred line between non-profit donation programs charging fees for their administrative and handling expenses, and for-profit organisations demanding prices for bodies or body parts. Nevertheless, commercialisation presumably prevails if earnings are high and not fully re-invested in the program itself but rather go into private hands, or if the organising institution is a for-profit organisation by its legal status, or if bodies or body parts are directly priced (rather than expenses compensated). It is also a sign of commercialisation if bodies or body parts do not stay under the custody of the institution that accepts the donation, but are passed on to others (i.e. are truly "sold") and do not go back to the first institution. 041b061a72


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