“The story of transatlantic slavery is a fundamental and tragic human story that must be told and retold, and never be forgotten.” I’ve been desperate to visit the International Slavery Museum for ages. I’m currently an external examiner for the forensic anthropology undergrad and postgrad degrees at Liverpool John Moores University and so come over to the city a couple of times a year. I really like Liverpool – partly, as I’ve said before, I like post-industrial cities that look both to the past and…Continue Reading “The International Slavery Museum, Liverpool”

This weekend there was an article on the BBC website about photographic student Harry Lloyd-Evans who photographs surgical implants that are recovered and recycled after cremation. On his website, Harry states that: “Implanted is a project which presents images of discarded surgical implants at the end of life. Most of the implants have been recovered following cremation, the exception being the pacemakers which are removed prior to cremation.” “On first viewing my images I found them unusual and strangely beautiful.  I decided to try to…Continue Reading “Implanting Art into the forensic sciences”

Everyone here knows that I like to play video games. I always have, and my transition from ugly duckling to beautiful swan can be mapped alongside my gaming platforms: Spectrum 48k and Spectrum 128k at school, Amiga and Atari Lynx II (if anyone remembers that…) at college, PlayStation 1 and PS2 at university, PlayStation 3 in my first academic posts and now the X Box One with my own boys. I’ve never been massively into playing on the PC – despite the fact that my…Continue Reading “Eat. Sleep. Mine. Repeat.”

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (and frankly if you don’t, you really should – I’m a delight!) will know that in my recent visit to the School of Health and Social Care, I got a bit lost and stumbled across this in a dark corridor… It was pointed out to me that this was all very Westworld, and that in turn got me thinking a little about role-play and simulation. Not the murdery kind like on the show, but rather the educational…Continue Reading “These violent delights have violent ends…”

Criticism forms one of the pillars of academia. It’s constant and everywhere, and goes hand-in-hand with rejection – papers booted out, grant applications chucked in funders’ bins, mocking of your promotion application… In theory this criticism should be part of a process of improvement and enhancement. The idea is that peer-review in whatever form it takes, acts simultaneously as a gatekeeper to quality in the discipline, and also as a vehicle for improvement. Of course that only works if the criticism is constructive. It’s like…Continue Reading “Everyone’s a critic…”

I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see the recent Kenneth Branagh version of Murder on the Orient Express, but it’s very watchable. It’s got a great cast, it looks suitably opulent and has some nice lines in it. I’ve seen it twice now – once on my flight to Seattle for the AAFS in Feb, and then again this month at home. The nice thing about doing this is that you get to appreciate the film first as if in the dark,…Continue Reading “My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world…”

I was talking to my wife recently about the ‘Facebook-effect’ of being an academic – whereby people only see the positive things of the work, which results in a sense that everyone else is doing much better than you and that its so much easier for them. For me, I don’t like to go on about how hard it is to do the job well and get a decent work-life balance, because, being terribly British about it, I assume that no-one wants to hear me…Continue Reading “Publication bias”

To my shame, I knew very little about the history of Cyprus before I went there earlier this month. I knew our military went there, and that British youth head there for debauched holidays, but that’s about it. When we got to Cyprus, and after my eyes had adjusted to that unusual bright thing in the sky in January, the first thing that surprised me was how British the place was. Three-pronged plugs, roundabouts, pelican crossings. Naturally our first thought was “Ahh, this is another…Continue Reading “Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus”

One thing that you learn from talking to your children is that oftentimes you’re not nearly as interesting as you think you are… What can I do but take these painfully learnt lessons and apply them in the classroom? So in recognition of how boring I can be and to break things up a bit, I like to bring in TV and films to help contextualise or liven up what I’m talking about. I’ve used clips from the greatest TV show ever made (Total Wipeout…Continue Reading “It’s important to me that you know that Han shot first…”

Now, the problem with being an utter delight, is that people want to talk to you. Like, all the time. In every possible situation. The pressures of being such a joy to be around are great.   Like most people I commute to work. But I don’t drive in, I take the train. I much prefer the train to the car – it’s easier, cheaper and as an anthropologist it gives me considerable opportunity to people-watch. Also, the train is a microcosm of human society…Continue Reading “Planes, trains and automobiles…”