Forensic Anthropology: Make No Bones About It

Fall Quarter, 2019

Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Norris University Center

A. Forensic Anthropology: Make No Bones About It

Erin B. Waxenbaum, Associate Professor of Instruction, Anthropology

Anthropology is a holistic analysis of the human condition encompassing many diverse areas of study. The field is broken down into four subfields – cultural, linguistic, archaeological and biological – which are further subdivided in practice. One subfield of biological anthropology is paleoanthropology, the study of human origins. This area focuses on the biological history of the human species including their evolution, emergence, and radiation. We will explore the scientific method and how theories like evolution have come about and expand over time. We will learn about our closest living relatives – nonhuman primates – and how an appreciation of their life history and behavior reflects our understanding of the modern human condition. Many of the principles and concepts that comprise how humans have evolved and adapted over time involve an appreciation of ecology, genetics, physiology, adaptation and cultural development that will also be explored. We will consider modern human diversity and discuss how we are continuing to evolve today.

Forensic anthropology is another subfield of biological anthropology which applies methods in traditional skeletal biology to questions of modern medicolegal significance, from determining personal identity to assisting in the trauma analysis of recent human remains.

We will touch upon the full range of issues associated with skeletal identification, from trauma analysis and biological profile determination to mass disasters and human rights violations worldwide. These problems will serve as a model for understanding the broader aspects of human evolution, modern variation and anthropology. 

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