Cultural and Forensic Mass Grave Workshop – July 2015

Greetings from OFI! I’m excited to announce our program for July 2015: Kindly forward to interested students and faculty.
A Comprehensive Cultural and Forensic Anthropology Workshop Providing Training For Mass Grave Excavation
Dates: July 6th – 31st, 2015
Location: OSA Field Institute, Costa Rica

This workshop will approach the excavation of mass graves from an integrated, interdisciplinary perspective. It takes place in a dynamic primary rainforest where students will learn the practical issues with forensic investigation in an environmentally and culturally complex context. It includes both a cultural and physical component with emphasis on integration of the two sub-disciplines. It will be structured in such a way that participants will focus on their area of interest, This workshop will benefit both students (undergraduate as well as graduate level) and professionals in various fields of forensic investigation. It is highly recommended that students enroll for the full four-week program, however it is also structured in a modular format so that participants may choose those modules relevant to their interest and availability. Modules I and II are one week each, and Module III is two weeks.
Cultural Workshop: Structural Violence and the Human Rights of Mourners, the Missing, and the Dead
Concurrently with technical and legal training, the cultural anthropology workshop will provide in-depth explorations of the politics of post-conflict and post-disaster forensic investigations, the needs of family members and other mourners, and the legal framework in which most investigations are conducted. Drawing on approaches from cultural anthropology, students assess the cultural factors involved in exhuming, identifying, and repatriating dead bodies in the midst of divided and/or traumatized societies. Through readings, discussions, and their own writing, students will apply major concepts of structural violence, justice, and human rights to some of the world’s most painful sites of injustice. In the process, it exposes the different and sometimes competing needs of international institutions, states, investigators, survivor communities, and even the dead themselves. Students will acquire new tools to identify both the universal ideas of justice and the culturally specific worldviews amongst these stakeholders, and will articulate their own ideas of how to honor the suffering of others in a complex post-conflict landscape. Students will learn to balance the investigator’s need to obtain information in an expedient and culturally sensitive manner with the dignity of the dead and grieving, and ultimately to develop their own definitions of human rights in the context of mass grave investigations.
Click Here to download the Application for the Cultural Workshop

Instructors for the cultural component include the cultural anthropologist Dr. Julie A. Reyes, and human rights scholars Dr. Jack Donnelly and Dr. Adam Rosenblatt. The course will focus on structural violence and the human rights of mourners, the missing, and the dead.
Forensic Workshop: The Forensic Investigation of Mass Graves
Participants interested in focusing on forensic anthropology will have the opportunity to attend lectures pertinent to the field as well as participate in the location and excavation of a mock mass grave. Lectures will cover search and location of mass graves, site survey and documentation, excavation techniques, recovery and transfer of evidence from mass graves of various complexities, introductory osteological analysis, and report preparation. Activities will include visual searches, site mapping and documentation, excavation of mass graves created using porcine human analogs, and basic osteological analysis of human skeletal materials. This workshop presents a unique opportunity for participants to work at a mock site, which includes actively decomposing remains (animal) in a challenging environment. It will provide participants with the opportunity to physically and emotionally experience a mass grave excavation in a controlled setting which will require them to critically assess changing circumstances and develop/utilize problem solving skills. Furthermore, it will provide an opportunity to understand the greater social and political implications of human rights violations. Major practical and ethical issues and controversies such as commingled remains, sharing/publication of data, etc., will be highlighted and discussed. Click Here for a formal syllabus with a focus on physical activities including contact hours.
Click Here to download the Application for the Forensic Workshop

Instructors for the forensic component: Core Faculty: Catherine M. Gaither, PhD; Christiane Baigent MSc; Potential Guest Lecturers: José Pablo Baraybar, PhD; Derek Congram, PhD and Larry Conyers, PhD.
Follow the link below to view the FAQ’s for this program:
July 2015 FAQ’s
Julie A Reyes, Ph.D. Executive Director – Osa Field Institute


Comments are closed.