As I have recently discussed on a blog post about recently published or forthcoming bioarchaeology books, I too have had a book chapter published in a new edited volume for the Bioarchaeology and Social Theory series, as produced by Springer. The volume is titled New Developments in the Bioarchaeology of Care: Further Case Studies and Expanded Theory (£82.00 hardback or £64.99 ebook) and it is edited by Lorna Tilley and Alecia A. Shrenk. The volume presents new research regarding the bioarchaeological evidence for care-provision in the archaeological record. Using the associated Index of Care online tool, bioarchaeological researchers can utilize the four-stage case study approach to analyze and evaluate the evidence for care-provision for individuals in the archaeological record who display severe physical impairment likely to result in a life-limiting disability, or to result in a sustained debilitating condition which limits involvement in normal, everyday activities. (For further information see a full book description below).
In short, my chapter investigates the public reception and engagement of the bioarchaeology of care theory and methodology as proposed by Lorna Tilley in a slew of recent publications (see bibliography). As an inherent part of this the chapter discusses the ethical dimensions within the approach used for analyzing physically impaired individuals in the archaeological record, and the potential evidence of care-provision as seen on the osteological remains of the individual and contextual archaeological information. Proceeding this is a walk-through of traditional and digital media formats, presented to provide a contextual background for the communication of the theory and methodology which is subsequently followed by two bioarchaeology of care case studies, Man Bac 9 from Neolithic Vietnam and Romito 2 from Upper Palaeolithic Italy, which help to summarize the public perception and importance of the research conducted to date within this new area of investigation and analysis. In the conclusion best practice advice is provided for researchers conducting education outreach with regards to publicizing the bioarchaeology of care research and its results via both traditional and digital media formats.
The following information is taken from the Springer press release (and is used with the permission of Lorna Tilley) regarding the volume, both its aims and its content:
‘Only in the last five years has the topic of health-related care found acceptance as legitimate subject matter for archaeology. In 2011, a case study-based ‘bioarchaeology of care’, designed to provide a framework for identifying, analysing and interpreting evidence for likely disability and associated care response, was proposed; the approach generated academic and wider public interest, and from this time on it has continued to evolve as bioarchaeologists apply it to cases of likely caregiving and broader theoretical questions of care provision within their areas of specialisation.’
New Developments in the Bioarchaeology of Care: Further Case Studies and Extended Theory
The volume ‘marks an important milestone in this evolutionary process. Its origins lie in a symposium entitled ‘Building a Bioarchaeology of Care’, held during the Society for American Archaeology 2015 annual meeting, which brought together an international, cross-disciplinary group of scholars to explore this theme. This book contains 19 chapters, most based on symposium presentations, the first substantive chapter providing an overview of the bioarchaeology of care methodology and last situating the bioarchaeology of care approach, and the chapters in this book in particular, within the discipline of bioarchaeology more generally. The 16 chapters that comprise the core of this volume offer content which is always original, often methodologically innovative, and frequently challenging, and are organised under three headings.
In the first section, Case studies: applying and adapting the bioarchaeology of care methodology, Chapters 2-9 focus primarily on the care given to one or more individuals who experienced (variously) a congenital disorder, acquired disease, accidental or intentional injury and who date to prehistory (Bronze Age, United Arab Emirates), through later Pre-Columbian (southern United Sates and Peru) and Mediaeval periods (United Kingdom and Poland), to relatively modern times (late 18th century London). These chapters also contribute to bioarchaeology of care theory, however, because each one, in some way, has implications for how we conceptualise past caregiving or for how we might improve current research methods.
In the second section, New directions for bioarchaeology of care research, Chapters 10-16 explore alternative perspectives for illuminating past health related care behaviours. Respectively, they address the scope for applying the bioarchaeology of care methodology to mummified remains; the potential for research into past caregiving to focus on demographic sectors of the population which are often overlooked – specifically children and the aged; the prospects for acknowledging psychological, spiritual and/or emotional forms of support in bioarchaeology of care studies; the modification of the bioarchaeology of care model to allow an assessment of institutional healthcare efficacy at both an individual and a population level; the development of a biocultural model for examining the origins of health-related caregiving; and the potential relevance for bioarchaeology of care studies of an online application supporting research into clinical and social implications of living with disease.
In the third section, Ethics and accountability in the bioarchaeology of care, Chapter 17 interrogates the principles, assumptions, values and beliefs that are likely to influence carriage of bioarchaeology of care research, and Chapter 18 considers ethical responsibilities involved in communicating bioarchaeology of care research findings in the public domain, and discusses some practical ideas for information-sharing.’
The volume isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination, so if you are a student or a researcher interested in this topic I highly recommend that you advise your university or institution library to order a copy. If you are a member of the public I recommend again that you use your local library and order a copy in or use the inter-library loan system in order to source a copy of the volume. Alternatively individual authors of the chapters may upload their sections of the volume to their own respective academic social media websites, such as on ResearchGate or Academia.edu, if they have a profile. For instance you can read my chapter here. It also always worth emailing the researcher in question if you are interested in accessing their work and are unable to locate the writing online. From a quick internet search it seems Google Books also has the book scanned and it is partially available here.
- The online non-prescriptive tool entitled the Index of Care, produced by Tony Cameron and Lorna Tilley, can be found at its own dedicated website. The four stage walk-through is designed to prompt the user to document and contextualize the appropriate archaeological and bioarchaeological data and evidence in producing the construction a ‘bioarchaeology of care’ model.
- Kristina Killgrove has, in her Forbes bioarchaeology reportage, recently discussed one of the chapter case studies of a Polish Medieval female individual whose remains indicate that she had gigantism, or acromegaly. Check out the post here.
- My 2013 These Bones of Mine interview with Lorna Tilley, of the Australian National University, can be found here. The interview discusses the origin of the bioarchaeology of care and the accompanying Index of Care tool and the surrounding issues regarding the identification of care-provision in the archaeological record.
Bibliography & Further Reading
Killgrove, K. 2016. Skeleton Of Medieval Giantess Unearthed From Polish Cemetery. Forbes. Published online 19th October 2016. Available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinakillgrove/2016/10/19/skeleton-of-medieval-giantess-unearthed-from-polish-cemetery/#476236b6413b. [Accessed 28th October 2016]. (Open Access).
Mennear, D. J. 2016. Highlighting the Importance of the Past: Public Engagement and Bioarchaeology of Care Research. In: L. Tilley & A. A. Shrenk, eds. New Developments in the Bioarchaeology of Care: Further Case Studies and Expanded Theory. Zurich: Springer International Publishing. 343-364. (Open Access).
Tilley, L. & Oxenham, M. F. 2011. Survival against the Odds: Modelling the Social Implications of Care Provision to the Seriously Disabled. International Journal of Palaeopathology. 1 (1): 35-42.
Tilley, L. & Cameron, T. 2014. Introducing the Index of Care: A Web-Based Application Supporting Archaeological Research into Health-Related Care. International Journal of Palaeopathology. 6: 5-9.
Tilley, L. 2015. Theory and Practice in the Bioarchaeology of Care. Zurich: Springer International Publishing.
Tilley, L. 2015. Accommodation Difference in the Prehistoric past: Revisiting the Case of Romito 2 from a Bioarchaeology of Care Perspective. International Journal of Palaeopathology. 8: 64-74.
Tilley, L. & Shrenk, A. A., eds. 2016. New Developments in the Bioarchaeology of Care: Further Case Studies and Expanded Theory. Zurich: Springer International Publishing.