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McGill Anthropology Speaker Series
McGill Anthropology Speaker Series

Fri, Feb 16


Peterson Hall 116

McGill Anthropology Speaker Series

Embodying Belief: A Historical Bioarchaeology of Religious Identities with Dr. Lauren Hosek

Time & Location

Feb 16, 2024, 12:30 p.m.

Peterson Hall 116, 3460 Rue McTavish, Montréal, QC H3A 0E6, Canada

About the event

Historical bioarchaeology offers an interdisciplinary approach to skeletal remains in the past, integrating osteological evidence with archaeological and archival data. My research utilizes these intersecting sources to examine how large-scale social phenomena such as religious ideology and institutional practices become embodied through ritual and activity across the life course. 

In this talk, I draw on my study of skeletal collections from an early medieval site in Czechia to challenge long-held interpretations of cemetery use based on social status. Instead, I argue that different ritual engagement with Christian ideology and institutions worked to channel people into alternative burial spaces. 

To demonstrate, I move between scales of analysis – from site-wide mortuary patterns and population-based skeletal indicators of health and activity to osteobiographical narratives of individual life histories that act as microhistorical foci for the intersections of large-scale phenomena. The focus on the individual, embedded within wider skeletal, archaeological, and textual contexts, is also an avenue for the development of more ethical bioarchaeological practice. My new research project, an exploration of health and ritual practice of the 19th-century Sisters of Loretto, integrates this methodology with a community collaborative approach. 

I situate these projects within broader discussions of local biologies, the extended life course, and the embodiment of disease, arguing that the deep contextualization afforded by historical bioarchaeology reveals how people shape, and are shaped by, percolating ideologies at the scale of daily life.

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