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To Educate or To Return: Human Remains Collections in University Museums
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Museums, universities and other institutions have a long history of using human remains for research and teaching materials in fields like anthropology, prehistory, pathology, and medicine. In the nineteenth century, researchers gathered human remains from around the world to learn about racial differences. It became commonplace for museums or universities to possess human remains.

Since then, questions have been raised about the rights of these institutions to possess, study, and display human remains. Many universities and museums would rather remove the human remains from their collections than generate controversy. The sensitivity of owning human remains has posed a great challenge for university museum whose educational function is the core of their collection.

This study explores how university museums manage human remains in the service of their educational mission, while meeting the contemporary ethical standards towards the treatment of human remains. This study used Museum Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum in Sweden as the case study to examine three areas: (1) the management of human remains; (2) the balance between education and ethical legitimacy, and (3) the impact of human remains on the museum. In so doing, this thesis also identifies common issues in the management of human remains in Sweden’s museum community. The results of the study follow an overview and analysis on the history and management to the policy of human remains in the Museum Gustavianum. Although university museums might not be able to engage in any political discussion about human remains, it is possible to reach a middle round by looking beyond the remains and recognizing it representing culture.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 83
Keywords [en]
University museum, human remains, museum practice, indigenous group, ethics
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-360369OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-360369DiVA, id: diva2:1247671
Subject / course
Euroculture
Educational program
Master Programme in Euroculture
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-09-25 Created: 2018-09-12 Last updated: 2018-09-25Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • text
  • asciidoc
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