Over Their Dead Bodies: CAT project at CAS

Last week, we were pleased to welcome Jonatan Kurzwelly, senior researcher at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, for a short visit to the Centre. Jonatan will be staying at CAS with his research group in February as part of the Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT) programme.

Boxes containing skulls in anthropological collection

The ‘Over Their Dead Bodies project delve into the historical and ongoing ethical and political challenges surrounding the collection of human remains worldwide. The project explores how these remains have been used to justify racialization and racism, resulting in exploitation and oppression. The team's focus will include the complexities of provenance research and repatriation efforts, often hindered by limited biographical information. Processes fraught with issues that require trans-disciplinary scholarly attention.

Camilla and Jonatan at CAS offices
Jonatan Kurzwelly and CAS director Camilla Serck-Hansen at CAS. Photo: Helene Ramnæs/CAS

Key topics of the project include the reliance on ethno-racial classifications, the conflation of biological and socio-cultural identities, the assignment of group belonging based on scarce historical data, the perpetuation of racial categories, and the ethical concerns of continuous storage of remains. Their examination will particularly emphasize regional contexts and the biases influencing the treatment of remains depending on their origin.

The CAT programme is designed to support small groups of excellent early-career researchers conducting basic research aimed at developing new ideas to understand and tackle current or emerging societal challenges. In order to enable them to engage in conversations and develop their ideas further, the groups are invited to meet for short stays at participating institutes, where they also get the opportunity to get in contact with the fellows in residence at the institutes as well as local research communities.

The CAT concept was developed within the framework of the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Studies (NETIAS). Launched in 2019, this initiative is currently supported by twelve Institutes for Advanced Study across Europe.

We look forward to welcoming Jonatan Kurzwelly and his group at CAS in February.

Published 24 June 2024, 2:22 | Last edited 25 June 2024, 1:08