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Communication, Collaboration, and Transparency: An Exploration of the Ethical Challenges Associated with the Analysis and Curation of Human Remains when Working with Multiple Stakeholders at the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily

SQUIRES, Kirsty and Piombino-Mascali, Dario (2022) Communication, Collaboration, and Transparency: An Exploration of the Ethical Challenges Associated with the Analysis and Curation of Human Remains when Working with Multiple Stakeholders at the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily. In: Program of the 91st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Biological Anthropologists. Wiley.

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Abstract or description

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo (Sicily) are an exceptional and culturally rich site and are home to the largest assemblage (n=1,284) of mummified remains in Europe. Since their inauguration (AD 1599), the catacombs have been open to visitors. The constant draw of the site to visitors holds significant ethical and logistical challenges in the curation and scientific analysis of the mummified individuals. These difficulties are further compounded by lack of investment in the site and the multiple stakeholders (e.g. descendants of the dead, Capuchin Friars, cultural heritage bodies, scientific community, and visitors), all with vested interests, involved in decision-making and the operation of the catacombs. In this paper, the ethical challenges of curating and analysing human remains at this cultural site will be explored. We will highlight that transparency, collaboration, and regular communication between all stakeholders is essential in the curation and analysis of the Capuchin mummies. It is evident that the absence of open dialogue and cooperation would ultimately mean the beliefs and wishes of the living and deceased are not respected, the mummies would experience further degradation, and scientific analysis would not be possible. In turn, this holds significant ramifications for bioarchaeology and public archaeology more broadly.

Item Type: Book Chapter, Section or Conference Proceeding
Faculty: School of Law, Policing and Forensics > Forensic Sciences and Policing
Event Title: 91st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Biological Anthropologists
Event Location: Denver, USA
Event Dates: 23 March 2022 - 1 April 2022
Depositing User: Kirsty SQUIRES
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2022 09:39
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2022 09:39
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/7416

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