Adam Rosenblatt, “Sacred Graves and Human Rights”

Adam Rosenblatt, Assistant Dean for Global Engagement and Assistant Professor in the Core Division, has a chapter in an anthology from Oxford University Press called Human Rights at the Crossroads, set to be released at the end of November. The chapter, called “Sacred Graves and Human Rights,” is about the use of forensic science to investigate mass graves after historical and contemporary genocides and atrocities—and the ethical and political dilemmas that occur when these graves are seen as sacred, and thus untouchable, by religious communities. The chapter focuses on on Jedwabne, a Polish village whose Jews were massacred during World War II—and where an attempted exhumation was brought to a halt by Orthodox rabbis and their congregants. “[T]he Polish anthropologists are guided by the idea that an accurate history is a way of restoring justice, after atrocities, to both the living and the dead. The rabbis […] believe that the dead inhabit a zone—the sacred—that is different from our own, and that to reach into that zone and disturb them is forbidden.”

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