If you cannot wait until next year for SSSB, we have good news for you - we will be hosting a session at the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) conference in December at the University of Southampton! TAG 2016 is being held from 19th - 21st December 2016, and will feature a large number of sessions (including several related to death and burial), Sightations exhibit, and a TAG Christmas market.
The session is called 'Skeletons, Stories, and Social Bodies' and will cover similar themes as the main conference next year, and will be hosted by three of the conference committee members - Sarah Schwarz, Lizzie O'Sullivan, and Stephanie Evelyn-Wright.
If you would like to contribute to the SSSB session at TAG, please email your abstracts to S.M.Schwarz@soton.ac.uk by 15th November 2016.
Please note you are welcome to submit abstracts for both the TAG 2016 session and the main SSSB conference.
Skeletons, Stories, and Social Bodies TAG 2016 Session Abstract:
The human body has been investigated and marvelled by anatomists since the earliest civilizations, with a wide variety of mortuary practices and attitudes to the body have dictating the nature of their work and the ‘appropriate’ methodologies employed. But the human body is much more than a construction of tissues – the body itself conveys a sense of identity and social meaning, and can do so well after the physical body has died.
The cadaver itself means different things to different societies – to some it is honoured and revered, and to some it is an object of fear and revulsion. To most the image of the corpse represents the end of a life, the loss of a loved one, and the absence of a social connection – but the dead can represent more than absence and loss. However, the declaration of death does not mean the end of social impact for the deceased – the body can continue to have social agency, can take on a new role as a cadaver in the anatomy laboratory, and can continue to represent the thoughts and beliefs of their society well after their body has been disposed of (eg. through burial).
This session aims to address the concept of the social body in death, changing attitudes to the dead in pre-history and history, and the information which can be visualised and re-constructed from a dead body. Whether that is by the archaeologist examining the excavated ancient skeleton or the anatomist making the first incision into the cadaver, this session aims to visualise the corpse as more than a dead body and understand their extended social impact within the society to which they belonged.
This session is based upon the topics which will be covered in an upcoming conference at the University of Southampton. The conference will be entitled ‘Skeletons, Stories, and Social Bodies’, and will be a three-day interdisciplinary conference which aims to connect those who research the dead and those who work with the dead.