As October rolls to a close, we look to continue our young season of New York Academy of Sciences Anthropology Section lectures this coming Monday evening, when we’ll welcome American University’s Dr. Rachel Watkins, associate professor of anthropology, who will discuss “Normative Analytical Frameworks and Studies of Identified Skeletal Collections: Some Considerations”. Watkins aims to shed light on the ways in which physiological data are incorporated into ideas about social theory and its relationship to human biology.
This paper examines the normative temporal, spatial, ethnoracial and distributional frameworks to which identified skeletal populations are subjected. A brief review of several identified skeletal collections illustrates current efforts toward developing contextualized human biology studies. At the same time, these studies are used to examine how categories in which data continue to be organized are suggestive of static and/or typological classification schemes. In doing so, the discussion addresses how these normativities undermine critical and humanistic approaches to studying human biology. This includes how the continued privileging of normal population distributions obscure the social, political and historical moments reflected in non-random distributions within and between identified skeletal collections. In the broadest context, this paper illustrates how studies of identified human skeletal collections are playing an increasingly prominent role in the integration of social theory into human biology studies.
As always, the evening will begin with a reception with refreshments at 6:00 PM, with the lecture to follow at 7:00 PM. The meeting is free to attend, but registration with NYAS is required.