dates de séjour
projet de recherche
Dead bodies/human remains as socio-cultural artefacts - people's reactions to the material consequences of death
Divisions between death and life, nature and culture, biology and society, humans and animals, body and mind, thought and matter or humans and things have been being intensively contested by representatives of various disciplines. Archaeologists have special place in this discussion because they penetrate far beyond the terminal transition from life to death. The project will draw on preparatory work which I have carried out on various aspects of the socio-cultural reactions to the material “product” of death, i.e. human dead body/human remains. In a broader perspective the project will ask: what was the origin of human-specific dead body treatment; how various historical cultures treated material rests of their members; why were those attitudes different and what they had in common? Dead body is the future for each of us and, therefore, its various “functions” belong to crucial onthological, epistemological, ethical and even esthetical questions which are trans-historical and cross-cultural. Quite new problems are provoked by modern trends towards hybridization and objectification/dehumanization or even commodification of human bodies. Such tendencies need comparative analyses against the history of human remains treatment in order to grasp their agency. Thus, studies on the complex position of human remains in multiple historical and contemporary socio-cultural and religious contexts offer an important platform for interdisciplinary research pertaining various spheres from ideology and eschatology to practical issues of heritage management.
Przemysław Urbańczyk is Full Professor at the Cardinal Wyszyński University in Warsaw and in the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences. He published over 350 texts dealing with medieval archaeology and history of Poland, East Central Europe, Scandinavia and north Atlantic islands. These publications include 8 books. Additional fields of interest include: theory of archaeological research, history of archaeology and methodology of archaeological excavations. He also edited sixteen multi-author volumes and is chief editor of an 18-volume project “Origines Polonorum”. He presented over sixty papers at international conferences and gave 16 invited lectures at universities in Europe and in Americas. He tutored 36 MAs and 5 successful doctoral dissertations. Director of multiple grants, including project aiming at preparation of a new version of the prehistory of Polish lands (2012-2016). Nominated to numerous international bodies, e.g.: Standing Committee for the Humanities, European Science Foundation (2002-2008), international jury for European Union Prize for Culture Heritage in Hague (2004-2008), review panels SH5 and SH6 of the European Research Council (2008-2011), Advisory Board of the INSTAR programme, Heritage Council, Dublin (since 2008), review panel of the international HERA I programme (2009), and Advisory Expert Group for Humanities and Social Sciences, European Commission (2011).