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Cambridge Heritage Research Centre


(Re)thinking about the Recent Past through Forensic Archives

Dr. Miriam Saqqa Carazo (Cambridge Heritage Research Centre)

Thursday 26 October 2023, 1pm

Through an interdisciplinary approach that combines history and physical anthropology, my current project focused attention on forensic and archaeological archives to open new perspectives about the political and social violence of the 20th century. This project aims to set the methodological grounds for critical systems to forensic and archaeological reports produced in the past. Through my doctoral research, I conducted the first historical study on the exhumation processes in the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s Dictatorship (1936-1951). Through judicial and forensic archives, this revealed how the Spanish dictatorship weaponised dead bodies. Based on this experience and to demonstrate the multiple layers of analysis of these archives, my current research focuses on the study of the procedures carried out by British government agents to recover the bodies of their soldiers and civilian populations killed in the context of the Second World War. Its technical and methodological aspects reveal how politics and ideology conditioned these forensic processes and how they affected them, turning aseptic forensic science into a contaminated practice. 

Dr Miriam Saqqa Carazo is a Historian and Physical Anthropologist with strong interests in the history of the forensic sciences and 20th-century politics. She is currently Margarita Salas Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre, and a member of the research project “Necropol. From the Forensic Turn to Necropolitics in the Exhumations of Mass Graves from the Civil War” at the University of Barcelona. She got her PhD in History and Archaeology at the Complutense University in Madrid, and for five years, she worked at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) as a doctoral researcher.

Thursday, 26 October, 2023 - 13:00 to 14:00
Event location: 
Seminar Room, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Downing Street, Cambridge and online via Zoom (registration required)