The Development of the Contextual Analysis of Human Remains in Ireland

Barra O'Donnabhain, Eileen Murphy

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    The colonial experience has been a dominant factor in the production of culture in Ireland, including narratives of the past. In the context of nineteenth century British imperialism, physical anthropology and archaeology were just two of a number of scientific discourses recruited to rationalise and justify colonialist policies. Legitimation was in part provided by racialised and sectarian conceptualisations of local populations in both past and present. After the partition of the island in the early twentieth century, racialised notions of the Irish population were embraced by both nationalist movements (green and orange) on the island. Changes came with the impact of processual archaeology and the appearance of bioarchaeology in the early 1980s, the latter directly influenced by the North American tradition. The last two decades have seen considerable achievements in bioarchaeology in Ireland. The profile of the discipline has been raised, and despite the impact of the recent economic downturn, the number of archaeologists gaining the necessary specialist skills has finally reached critical mass. The focus in Irish bioarchaeology is now on synthetic and thematic projects, and a number of initiatives are currently underway which will go some way towards furthering understanding of the past populations of Ireland.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationArchaeological Human Remains: Global Perspectives
    EditorsBarra O'Donnabhain, Maria Cecilia Lozada Cerna
    Place of PublicationLondon
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319063706
    ISBN (Print)9783319063690
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Publication series

    NameSpringerBriefs in Archaeology
    ISSN (Print)1861-6623


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Development of the Contextual Analysis of Human Remains in Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this