8 May 2015
The Fluidity of Forensic Anthropology.
Gender Norms & Racial Bias in the Study of the Modern "Forensic Anthropology"
Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of anthropology and its several subfields, including Biological Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology, in a legal setting. The adjective "forensic" refers to the application of this sub-field of science in judicial settings both criminal and civil.
The most frequent application of anthropology are physical anthropology and human biology used in criminal cases where the victim's remains are in the advanced stages of decomposition. A forensic physical anthropologist can assist in the identification of deceased individuals whose remains are decomposed, burned, mutilated or otherwise unrecognizable.
Forensic Cultural Anthropology is exemplified as follows:
-Area experts explain the cultural context of criminal behavior
-As ethnographic interpretation
-As "cultural defense":
Forensic anthropological techniques can be used in the recovery and analysis of human remains. A forensic anthropological analysis assesses the age, sex, stature, ancestry, and evidence for an estimate of the predominant geographical ancestry of the individual, as well as determine if the individual was affected by accidental or violent trauma or disease prior to or at the time of death. Forensic anthropologists frequently work in conjunction with forensic pathologists, odonatologists, and homicide investigators to identify a decedent, discover evidence of trauma, and determine the postmortem interval. Though they typically lack the legal authority to declare the official cause of death, which is the job of forensic pathologists, their opinions are taken into consideration by the medical examiner. They may also testify in court as expert witnesses. Data from some infrequently used techniques, such as forensic facial reconstruction, are inadmissible as forensic evidence in the United States.
In the United States
Physical anthropology is one of the divisions of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Two of the most important research collections of human skeletal remains in the U.S. are the Haman-Todd Collection, housed in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Terry Collection, housed in the Smithsonian Institution. These collections are an important historic basis for the statistical analysis necessary to make estimates and predictions from found remains. More modern collections include the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
There are some people who identify themselves as forensic anthropologists, and in the United States and Canada, there are fewer than 100 anthropologists certified as diplomats of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. Most diplomats work in the academic field and consult on casework as it arises.
Forensic anthropology, a sub-field of applied anthropology and physical anthropology, uses a cross-disciplinary approach to determine an individual’s identity, time since death, cause of death, and the manner of death. The discipline has achieved wide recognition in North America and, like other disciplines, it has its own code of ethics for practices among others outlined in the field of anthropology. Forensic anthropology progressed from a peripheral activity to a formally recognized discipline in the early 1970s. Both Canada and the United States have many dedicated professionals in each state, province and territory who work in the field of forensic anthropology; this includes the chief coroner or the chief medical examiner. As part of identifying the individual’s identity the following may be analyzed: age, stature, ancestry, and sex. To evaluate the time since death and the cause of death, many people from the various professional areas in the forensic field may step in; these fields include: pathology, toxicology, chemistry, biology,…