Interacting with the Dead

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Interacting with the Dead

What roles do the dead play in human societies? In American society, we don’t often consider what happens to dead people, how we interact with them, or whether they have agency? But the dead are all around us. Obvious examples include cadavers used by medical students or the quandary of what to do about deceased social media friends. Less obvious examples include the sale of human remains online, the so-called Red Market (illegal trade in human bodies and body parts), the curation of human remains in University or museum settings, or their display as religious or secular objects. This course considers the human deathscape through time and across different cultural contexts with the goal of understanding living-dead relations from ethical, anthropological, archaeological, and biocultural perspectives.