Working as a forensic archaeologist and/or anthropologist in post-conflict contexts: a consideration of professional responsibilities to the missing, the dead and their relatives

Soren Blau

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter examines the professional responsibilities of the forensic archaeology/anthropology practitioner and some of the ethical dilemmas that are associated with locating, collecting, recording and preserving physical evidence of human rights abuses involving single or mass killings in post-conflict contexts. Initially the development of the discipline of forensic archaeology and anthropology is outlined. This is followed by a discussion about the ways in which physical evidence recovered by forensic archaeologist/anthropologists can be used for humanitarian, legal, historical and/or political reasons and what this means for how forensic archaeologists/anthropologists undertake their work. The chapter then considers the forensic archaeology/anthropology practitioner?s professional responsibilities as related to a number of different themes including work opportunities and choices, communication with the families of victims, standards and local capacity and occupational health and safety. The chapter concludes that unlike the practitioners of traditional archaeology whose work is not implicated in the struggles of living people, archaeologists and anthropologists who choose to work in post-conflict areas are significantly influenced by the living in where, why and how they work. Combined with the political sensitivities associated with investigating the location of graves and identifying the deceased, the wide ranging needs of the surviving families and wider communities play an important part of the forensic archaeologist/anthropologist?s professional responsibilities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthics and the Archaeology of Violence
EditorsAlfredo Gonzalez-Ruibal, Gabriel Moshenska
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781493916429
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameEthical Archaeologies: The Politics of Social Justice

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