California Studies Association

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Grave Matters: Excavating California’s Buried Past

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Grave Matters cover

Grave Matters: Excavating California’s Buried Past
Tony Platt, Heyday, Berkeley, 2011

This books examines the dark relationship between academic anthropologists, specifically those affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley, and the cowboy underworld of grave diggers and pot hunters. The fact that thousands of human burial sites were recklessly torn up and skeletons shipped away was bad enough, but even the noble hand of Science was not properly invoked – very few of these remains were ever analyzed. The author weaves together strong research with moving interviews and personal narrative, and examines this process through the lens of world genocides. He further explores challenges and solutions to correct the pedagogical void that persists regarding the devastating loss of life and culture.

The author was a recent guest at a CSA dinner talk; review contributed by Lincoln Cushing

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