respect for the living and the dead

by R.S.

There is a book being launched in about a months time that looks like it could be a good one. Power and the Passion (2010) looks like it will be about the struggle to return ancestral remains to Koori communities from the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Museum:

Power and the Passion
Our Ancestors Return Home
by Shannon Faulkhead & Jim Berg

It had never happened before!

No one had ever taken legal action against the University of Melbourne and the Museum of Victoria, challenging their right to keep collections of the skeletal remains of the Ancestors of Aboriginal people, the original inhabitants of this Land.

For the 25th Anniversary of the Reburial in Kings Domain Garden, Shannon Faulkhead and Jim Berg tell the story of this significant battle in the history of colonisation of this country. The story incorporates the voices of 22 people, both Koorie and non-Koorie, who were involved at the time.

Details for the book launch:

Thursday 25th November 2010
2.30 pm for 3.00 pm
@ The Koorie Heritage Trust Inc
295 King St, Melbourne (Cnr Little Lonsdale)
RSVP by Friday 19th November 2010
T: 03 8622 2600  F: 03 9602 4333
To be launched by Nicole Cassar

Koori Ancestor remains are scattered across the globe, and it is estimated that Britain alone houses 600 bodies that were collected for “research” and “scientific exhibits”.

There is a lot to be said about how people treat the dead and what it says about the living.

Is there a logical/emotional/theoretical difference between a fascist spraying swastikas on the graves of Jews or the industrial scale desecration of bodies? What can be said of the scientist/intellectual/expert/whatever that unearths the bodily remains of people for the purpose of poking, prodding and measuring? And of the scientist or institution that defends the continued holding of remains because of the said benefits to scientific knowledge in the future? What can be said of those who, in their treatment of the dead, knowingly disregard the laws/customs/requirements of the living? At what point does arrogance and hate for the living converge?