Dead Bodies & the Politics of Memory: Bioarchaeology at the UWI Mona and the Decolonization of Heritage

Author(s): John T Shorter

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Health and Inequality in the Archaeological Record" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

In 2016, the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona interned human skeletal material recovered during the construction of its Basic Medical Sciences Complex (BMSC). Fragmented and bereft of context, these remains were initially believed to be of little scientific value, but as James Deetz would concur, greater narratives often reside within small things forgotten. Sure enough, amateur observations conducted mere days before entombment revealed probable signs of a Caribbean population tied to a standardised and oppressive labour regime. Calcified within the crumbling bone-matter were markers of stress and malnutrition correlative to the belligerent structural violence and disparate health epistemologies enforced under colonial plantocratic rule. This paper will examine these remains as the physical embodiment of this exploitive system, their significance in terms of memory and heritage, and the proposal of a conservation plan for future finds.

Cite this Record

Dead Bodies & the Politics of Memory: Bioarchaeology at the UWI Mona and the Decolonization of Heritage. John T Shorter. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449028)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


bioarchaeology heritage Structural Violence

Geographic Keywords

Temporal Keywords
17th - 19th century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -78.374; min lat: 17.697 ; max long: -76.221; max lat: 18.505 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 465