Bodies Apart: Dissection and Embodied Structural Violence in a Historic Skeletal Assemblage from San Francisco
Author(s): Sarah Hall
This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
Historic-era skeletal samples from the United States routinely reflect marginalized and vulnerable populations, many of which were also subject to dissection, a partible practice widely considered a form of desecration in the nineteenth century. Using historic and osteological data from a skeletal assemblage (MNI=25) at Point San Jose in San Francisco, CA (AD 1863-1903), this work builds upon previous scholarship to discuss the marginalized social identities of the individuals within the assemblage. The commingled assemblage at Point San Jose comprised thousands of human bones, many with cut mark damage, suggesting they were used for anatomical dissection. Assessment of biological characteristics suggested that individuals of non-European ancestry were overrepresented based on late nineteenth-century census data from the Bay Area. This study explores the ways structural violence is embodied in these skeletal remains during life and after death using several lines of evidence, including isotopic analyses of diet and migration, burial context, and osteological evidence of dissection. The ensuing discussion of embodiment and postmortem agency is critically applied not only to historic postmortem examinations but also to the excavation and analytical methods used for this assemblage.
Cite this Record
Bodies Apart: Dissection and Embodied Structural Violence in a Historic Skeletal Assemblage from San Francisco. Sarah Hall. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449811)
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min long: -124.189; min lat: 31.803 ; max long: -105.469; max lat: 43.58 ;
Abstract Id(s): 26017