Human Remains on the Move.

Violent Contexts, Institutional Travels, and the Global Afterlives of the Dead

Cover Image: WIlh. Greve [Lithographer], “The Bay and Necropolis of Ancón,” from Wilhelm Reiss and Alphons Stübel, The Necropolis of Ancon in Peru: A Contribution to Our Knowledge of the Culture and Industries of the Empire of the Incas. trans. Augustus Henry Keane, Vol. 1 (Berlin: A. Asher, 1880-1887). Collection Development Department. Widener Library. HCL, Harvard University.

The conference takes a look at the long history of circulation of human remains across many ‘scientific’ and heritage settings. We look at their historical and contemporary travels to - and from – research institutions, collections and museums. The objective is to interrogate the politics behind these travels and their implications for thinking about the complex ontology of human remains. Taking as a vantage point postcolonial and decolonial debates around repatriation of human remains, we trace the routes through which dead bodies travelled to those institutions – and the contexts of their deaccession. At the same time, we attend to the very material and political and affective presence of the human remains on the move between private and public bodies, between the formerly colonized to the colonizers (and back), and between global museums devoted to political violence in contexts other than colonial, including the Holocaust and the atomic bombing of Japan.


Institute of Culture Studies and Theater History, Austrian Academy of Sciences, ERC project Globalised Memory Museums

Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI)

Penn State University

Concept: Zuzanna Dziuban (Austrian Academy of Sciences) and Ran Zwigenberg (Penn State)

Please click here to open the folder with further information.


Date & Venue:
Vienna/online 14 March 2023 15:00-19:00 CET
Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI)