The potential for
My own opinion on the matter of reburial is somewhat divided, as I see it, there are 3 main points to the case:
Poor and disrespectful treatment of the remains in museums. I have over the past few months seen first hand how human remains held one of the country's two largest and most important museums are handled and treated with care and respect. One of the conservators who is responsible for their care and storage makes a habit of talking to them as she does so, she doesn't know why, it just “seems the right thing to do”. This is the sort of care that is often not considered, is not known about and so claims about treating the remains without respect go on unfounded. In the past this was probably the case but these days I think that as a case for reburial it no longer stands.
Being left for the public to gawp and stare at in glass cases. Again, I think they are wrong. My experience has been that when people are confronted with human remains such as this people tend to behave in a different manner as they would looking at Roman pots or Greek urns. My experience is that adults will tend to be awed, they will be very aware that this was and is a human being – one of us – and perhaps act in a more dignified and respectful manner. I am sure other people can support or dismiss this with their own experience. I will say now that children probably don't understand what the remains are and teenagers, well they will probably squeal and go 'yuk' in order to impress and amuse their comrades. Such is life.
Remains being stored long terms in dusty cupboards. Well, for a start and museum worth it's salt wont be letting things get dusty, they will certainly have strongly controlled climate conditions – the sort that keep my collections area at work nice and warm even in the coldest depths of winter – and will, as I have said before, be looking after them in good conditions and a respectful manner. This of course raises issues of science. We can scan, measure and photograph these remains as much as possible and elucidate every possible bit of data from them so as to learn from our ancestors about myrid aspects of their lives. And yet, in ten years time we might be able to learn more, in twenty years or 50 years who knows what else we can find out that we cannot now. So, do we give up the opportunity of the future to pay respect to the long dead of the past? This is the question I cannot answer, this is the one I have problems with. I cant help but feel there is simply something 'not right' about keeping remains boxed up and in storage indefinitely and yet I also think it worthwhile to hold on to them for the future and the technical opportunity it may bring.
I am going to close for now with a quote from Blogger Bo's (sadly private) blog, with reference to CoBDOn'ts activity in this matter;
“It is at this point that this kind of druidical rubbish stops being self-indulgent bullshit and starts to verge on being, in my opinion, actively wicked. If Paul Davies (the green-clad nerd on the left) is 'appalled by Charlie's plight' - newsflash Paul, Charlie's dead - then perhaps he should go and volunteer at the heroic Camila Batmanghelidj's Kids Company for a few days and work with real, live, suffering, abused children, until he gets a FUCKING GRIP and refinds the compassion he has so inexplicably misplaced."