The Legacies of Repatriation - Final Project Report - 1.pdf (20.83 MB)

The Legacies of Repatriation of Human Remains from the Royal College of Surgeons: Final Project Report (2018)

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posted on 2021-05-25, 08:15 authored by Sarah MortonSarah Morton
This item contains "The Legacies of Repatriation of Human Remains from the Royal College of Surgeons: Final Project Report", authored by Dr Sarah Morton, in support of the REF2021 Impact Case Study within the History Unit of Assessment (28), entitled "Repatriating Human Remains: Changing Museum Practice".

The repatriation of the human remains of Indigenous peoples collected within a colonial context has been the subject of debate within UK museums over the last 30 years, with many museums now having returned human remains to their countries of origin. Although the repatriation of human remains is often characterised as the ‘journey home’, there has been a lack of consideration of the physical presence and mobility of the remains and the meanings created as they move through different spaces.

This study uses the repatriations from The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii as case studies to consider three key areas: (i) the impact of repatriation on museum landscapes; (ii) the journey of the repatriated remains and how this mobility intersects with wider discussions about restitution, sovereignty, identity, relatedness, memory and memorialization; and (iii) the repatriation archives, how they are thought about by the institutions that hold them and their future potential and meaning within a post-colonial context. Taking a more-than-representational approach and engaging with the materiality, mobility and agency of the repatriated remains and the documentation that relates to them, this study bridges the gap between research considering the approach of museums to repatriation, and ethnographic studies on the meanings of the return of ancestral remains to individual communities.