What matters to you.

Forum Network

Free online lectures: Explore a world of ideas

Funding provided by:

Over My Dead Body

In partnership with:
With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Friday, September 29, 2006

A panel discusses the fate of Mattatuck Museum's skeleton, Larry, and tries to resolve issues surrounding what happens to our bodies after we die, and who decides what is okay. Where is the line between respect for the human body after death, and the use of human remains for display and education? Where do museums fit in? For decades, Connecticut's Mattatuck Museum has grappled with difficult issues in relation to one of their most iconic artifacts, a skeleton known as Larry. Research recently revealed that the skeleton belonged to an enslaved man named Fortune, whose owner, a doctor, had preserved the bones upon Fortune's death. This program is part panel discussion and part forum conversation.

George Annas is the Edward R. Utley Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights of Boston University School of Public Health, and Professor in the Boston University School of Medicine, and School of Law. He is the cofounder of Global Lawyers and Physicians, a transnational professional association of lawyers and physicians working together to promote human rights and health. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he clerked for Justice John V. Spalding of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and came to Boston University in 1972 as the Director of the Center for Law and Health Sciences at the law school. Professor Annas is the author or editor of sixteen books on health law and bioethics, including *American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries* (2005), *The Rights of Patients* (3d ed. 2004), *Some Choice: Law, Medicine, and the Market* (1999), *Standard of Care: The Law of American Bioethics* (1993), and *Judging Medicine* (1987), and a play, entitled *Shelley's Brain* that has been presented to bioethics audiences across the U.S. and in Australia. Professor Annas has been called "the father of patient rights," "the doyen of American medico-legal analysts," and a "national treasure." Professor Annas wrote a regular feature on "law and bioethics" for the Hastings Center Report from 1976 to 1991, and a regular feature on "Public Health and the Law" in the *American Journal of Public Health* from 1982 to 1992 and since 1991 has written a regular feature on "Legal Issues in Medicine" for the *New England Journal of Medicine*, now under the title "Health Law, Ethics, and Human Rights." He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Institute of Medicine, cochair of the American Bar Association's Committee on Health Rights and Bioethics (Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section) and a member of the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academies. He has also held a variety of government regulatory posts, including Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, Chair of the Massachusetts Health Facilities Appeals Board, and Chair of the Massachusetts Organ Transplant Task Force.
Ellen Schattschneider (Department of Anthropology, Brandeis University) is a sociocultural anthropologist specializing in psychoanalytic, phenomenological and practice approaches to culture. She has strong ethnographic interests in East Asia, especially Japan. She received undergraduate training in philosophy, psychology and anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College, and graduate training in anthropology at the University of Chicago. Her principal ethnographic work has been conducted in the Tsugaru region of northern Tohoku, Japan (1991-92, 1997, 1999 and 2002). Dr. Schattschneider's academic writings give particular attention to ritual performance, gender and embodiment, spirit mediumship, sacred landscapes, visuality and the power of images, popular religious experience and comparative capitalist cultures. Her new book, *Immortal Wishes: Labor and Transcendence on a Japanese Sacred Mountain* (2003) explores healing, self-fashioning and embodied psychodynamic processes on a sacred landscape associated with a Shinto shrine founded by a rural Japanese woman in the 1920s. Her current research project, *Facing the Dead: Japanese Bride Dolls in the Mirror of War*, examines contemporary Japanese practices of spirit marriage and doll dedication, with close attention to traumatic popular memories of World War II and its legacies. She has been awarded a Fulbright grant for research in Japan during 2003-04 on this topic.