Still Life with Bones: Genocide, Forensics, and What Remains

Books on Tape. Mar. 2023. 8:08 hrs. ISBN 9780593668030. $66.50. ANTHRO
Anthropologist Hagerty (Univ. of Cambridge) details her field experiences in Guatemala and Argentina, where she worked alongside forensic teams and victims’ families to recover evidence of genocide. Narrator Rose Akroyd’s impassioned performance captures the respect for the process of locating and exhuming victims’ bones, the steps for cleaning and inspecting the remains, the care taken to identify each victim, and the emotional return of bones for proper inhumation, per local burial traditions. Akroyd projects a clinical objectivity when discussing the political histories of both countries and the various methods each used when executing the victims and disposing of their bodies. Her tone shifts to frustration when describing experiences of bureaucratic and local impediments that slowed the progress of the projects. Akroyd’s Spanish pronunciations are adept, but listeners may sense a disconnect as they hear her British-accented narration of the American Hagerty’s inner thoughts and feelings. Additionally, listeners should be prepared to hear British pronunciations throughout, even for the word “junta,” which is pronounced as “JUN-tuh,” as is the standard UK style.
VERDICT Hagerty’s illuminating account provides a fascinating and deeply moving glimpse into how anthropologists’ use of forensic methods has changed the ways in which research is conducted in the field.
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