University request to rebury skulls to be ‘closely watched’

The University of Pennsylvania in the United States is moving ahead with the reburial of the cranial remains of at least 13 black Philadelphians whose skulls have been kept for almost two centuries in a notorious anthropological collection used to justify white supremacy in the run-up to the United States civil war, writes Ed Pilkington for The Guardian.

The Ivy League university is petitioning the Philadelphia orphans’ court for permission to rebury the skulls in the city’s historic African American Eden cemetery. Should the ceremony go ahead, it would amount to one of the most significant restorative processes for black remains in America, in the wake of the racial reckoning following the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

The effort will be closely watched by other museums and collectors across the US and around the world. “This is an important moment, it opens the door to much wider conversations about these collections,” said Samuel Redman, author of Bone Rooms, which traces the often dark history of the curation of human remains.
Full report on The Guardian site