Remote Access to Russia? Investigating the Russian Empire’s historical acquisition of Indigenous human remains under COVID constraints

Abstract

Collections of human remains resulting from Western scientific activity over the past three centuries have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. Indigenous communities worldwide have been calling for the repatriation of their ancestors from such collections since at least the 1960s and have achieved significant success to date. However, almost nothing is known about Russian holdings of human remains for the purposes of anthropological investigation. This seminar introduces the ARC DECRA project ‘Skulls for the Tsar’, which aims to produce the first detailed investigation of the acquisition of Indigenous human remains from Australia, New Zealand and the broader Pacific by the Russian Empire during the long 19th century. It also outlines the challenges associated with undertaking such a project under the joint constraints of COVID and of ANU’s recent decision to suspend all ties and activities with Russian institutions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Attendees’ thoughts and suggestions on productive approaches going forward will be gratefully received.

Author bio

Hilary Howes is an ARC DECRA Fellow based in the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at ANU. Her current project, ‘Skulls for the Tsar: Indigenous human remains in the collections of Imperial Russia’, aims to produce the first detailed investigation of the acquisition of Indigenous human remains from Australia, New Zealand and the broader Pacific by the Russian Empire during the long 19th century. Her research to date addresses the German-language tradition within anthropology, archaeology and ethnology in Australia and the Pacific region.

 

Zoom Details
https://anu.zoom.us/j/88055381796?pwd=KzIzeUhtU3NQaEVoR3FzcG9jVU1QUT09  
Meeting ID: 880 5538 1796
Password: 778899

Date & time

Wed 16 Mar 2022, 4.15–5.30pm

Location

Zoom and the RSSS Auditorium, Level 1, 146 Ellery Crescent, Acton

Speakers

Dr Hilary Howes

School/Centre

School of History

Contacts

RSSS Administration

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Updated:  7 March 2022/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications