This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.
I have long been uncomfortable with the public display of human remains. As a child, it disturbed me that museums would display mummified bodies in glass cases. I was equally uncomfortable at funeral homes, but the juxtaposition between the two sites troubled me. I wondered then, as now—why are some dead bodies accorded such respect and ceremony, while others are objectified and subjected to our gaze?Continue reading