You're viewing an archived page from a previous Festival of Ideas. See this year's festival »
We all think that we know who we are, but other people may be interested in whether we are indeed who we say we are, and whether who we say we are is who we have always been. Our identity is very personal to us but it is something that we willingly share every single day of our lives. But what happens when we are no longer alive to verify our identity? How can we still communicate our identity from beyond the grave? Forensic anthropology is the identification of the human, or what remains of the human, for medicolegal purposes. It is my job to determine who you may have been and I will talk about how your mortal remains can continue to talk to forensic scientists long after your passing. It is the science that talks for the dead through the dead.
Professor Sue Black is Director of the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee and Deputy Principal for public engagement. She is a forensic anthropologist and an anatomist, founder and past President of the British Association for Human Identification, and advisor to the Home Office and Interpol on issues pertaining to forensic anthropology in disaster victim identification (DVI). She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh), a Fellow of the Society of Biology and a certified forensic anthropologist. She was awarded an OBE in 2001 for her services to forensic anthropology in Kosovo, the Lucy Mair medal for humanitarian services and a police commendation for DVI training in 2008, Hon Prof of Anatomy for the Royal Scottish Academy in 2014 and the Fletcher of Saltoun award for her contribution to Scottish culture also in 2014. She was awarded both the Brian Cox and the Stephen Fry awards for public engagement with research and in 2013 her Centre was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. Her research was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education research project of the year in 2014.