Book review: The bioarcheology of dissection and autopsy in the United States, Kenneth C. Nystrom

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2019
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Yoo, Audrey
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Yoo, Audrey. 2019. Book review: The bioarcheology of dissection and autopsy in the United States, Kenneth C. Nystrom -- Lambda Alpha Journal, v.49, p.18-19

Abstract

In The Bioarcheology of Dissection and Autopsy in the United States, Kenneth C. Nystrom has compiled a range of articles that track the development of dissection and autopsy in the medical profession in the United States, as well as examine how these activities interact with race and socioeconomic status. Many of these articles use skeletal remains to draw sociocultural inferences with regards to status and personhood. Recurring themes throughout the volume include the changing perception of personhood as it pertains to the body, social marginalization, structural inequalities, and the changing practices in medicine throughout the development of the country's history. In the book's introduction, Nystrom emphasizes the importance of recognizing the different social implications related to autopsy and dissection. Autopsies usually indicate that the individual was important enough to have their death investigated. They could also be indicators of a disease outbreak. Dissections, on the other hand, were a way to dishonor the individual being dissected. The rest of the book is divided into sections that are organized by the chronology and geography of the cases, focusing almost exclusively on cases of dissection (rather than autopsy).

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