Listen to the Bones: Decolonizing Human Remains Collections at Franklin & Marshall College and the North Museum of Nature and Science
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This thesis addresses contextualizing the collections of human remains at Franklin & Marshall College and the North Museum, both in Lancaster, PA. Beginning with background information on the theory of decolonizing archaeology, I move on to describing the historical methods and reasons for collecting human remains as well as the institutional contexts in which these remains were stored and used. This contextualization includes a discussion of recognizing the impact of collecting human remains on the communities, which collectors most commonly targeted. I provide in depth descriptions of the remains at F&M and the North Museum, paying particular attention to anonymous remains. By describing these remains, I am telling the stories of the individuals’ lives and shedding light on how the remains may have been used following their death. This is an attempt to document as much information about the anonymous remains in the collections as possible in order to “decolonize” the relationship between institutions and these remains. By reminding people that these remains were people before they found their way into a storage closet, I am hoping to give a voice to these remains and the lives they represent. I do not advocate that these remains should never be used in the classroom, but I do emphasize the importance of telling the stories of these individuals to the people who are going to handle the remains before using them in the classroom.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2016
- F&M Theses Collection 
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