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Bones as Witnesses of Human Rights Violations

January 17, 2020 - 12:30pm to 1:20pm
Bolivar House, 582 Alvarado Row, Stanford, CA


One of the significant contributions of forensic anthropology to solve societal problems nowadays is the documentation of human rights violations. This science plays a critical role in humanitarian contexts being one of the forensic disciplines whose presence is mandatory in settings such as investigations into violations of international humanitarian law. Forensic anthropologists have a fundamental role in the interpretation of skeletal injuries, namely in the discrimination between ante, peri, and postmortem injuries as well as on the understanding of mechanism underneath them. These analyses allow the pathologists to make a better assessment of the individual's causes of death, which is paramount to the prosecution of war crimes. Besides, return the identity is also essential and, in this respect, anthropologists also play a central role. The cooperation between forensic pathology and forensic anthropology is then necessary to an effective investigation of human rights violations. Practical international cases where the author intervened as an expert will be presented and discussed.

Eugénia Cunha is the Director of the South Delegation of the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (NILMFS), Lisbon, Portugal, and member of the Direction of the Institute, since August 2018. Professor Cunha has been a full professor at the University of Coimbra since 2003 where she created and coordinates the Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology. She is also is a researcher at the Centre for Functional Ecology, and coordinator of the research Unit of Forensic Anthropology and Paleobiology. She is a national consultant in forensic anthropology for NILMFS in Portugal since 1997 and forensic anthropologist of the South Delegation of NILMFS, since 2004. At Stanford, she will be co-teaching the course CSRE 212: Biology, Culture and Social Justice in Latin America: Perspectives from Forensic Anthropology, in winter 2020, with professor Bridget Algee-Hewitt.

Event Sponsor: 
Center for Latin American Studies
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