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Ethical Concerns in Forensic Anthropology

Abstract

The nature of forensic anthropology presents a number of ethical challenges to its practitioners. Some of these issues are similar to those encountered in bioarchaeology or biological anthropology, but a number of dilemmas are unique to the discipline. These ethical challenges are continually growing and becoming more significant as forensic anthropologists practice in a number of different casework scenarios, both domestically and internationally. These include cases ranging from law enforcement or coroner investigations dealing with one individual to mass fatalities. Moreover, forensic anthropologists may be involved in cases requiring the analysis of living individuals, which brings its own unique ethical issues. As technology develops, and the contributions that forensic anthropology makes to various forensic investigations increases worldwide, the need to confront the multitude of ethical issues as well as ensuring forensic anthropologists are qualified and competent, rises exponentially. This chapter highlights a number of areas, including: codes of ethics, field and laboratory analysis, age estimation in the living, education and teaching, research, and dealing with families within a forensic anthropological context. It is hoped that these topics will increase awareness of the need for ethical practice in forensic anthropology and some of the many professional challenges forensic anthropologists routinely face.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See, for example, Cawley (2016) for the UK, and Hernández (2017) regarding Mexico.

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Márquez-Grant, N., Passalacqua, N.V., Pilloud, M.A., Lester, N., Decker, S., Ford, J. (2019). Ethical Concerns in Forensic Anthropology. In: Squires, K., Errickson, D., Márquez-Grant, N. (eds) Ethical Approaches to Human Remains. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-32926-6_15

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