Revered anthropologist speaks about research - The Daily Toreador: Lavida

Revered anthropologist speaks about research

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Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 3:34 pm | Updated: 3:34 pm, Fri Mar 11, 2011.

There are thousands of cases of unidentified genocide victims that remain unsolved, but anthropologists, such as Clyde Snow, work to identify the dead.

"To me it's always challenging to look at a skeleton and try to see what evidence there is in the skeleton that can help you attribute to the solution of a crime, whether it's a disappeared person in Argentina or a murdered victim in Oklahoma or Texas," Snow said.

Snow spoke about his research Thursday night at the Museum of Texas Tech in a lecture hosted by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work and Lambda Alpha. He has worked as an anthropologist for 50 years and has contributed to nearly 3,000 cases in countries including Brazil, Peru, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, the Philippines and Iraq.

He said he has also worked with identifying the victims of the Green River murders and John Wayne Gacy murders.

"He's done a tremendous amount of work and he's the guy that sort of set up the methodology that's used by a lot of different human rights organizations and their excavations around the world in terms of genocides and other mass killings," said Brett Houk, professor of archaeology.

Houk also mentioned that the talk tied in with the up-coming ethics lecture series held by the history department called "Trauma, Tragedy and Triumph."

The timing of the lecture was lined with the current Texas Tech Museum exhibit, "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race," an exhibit about eugenics.

Megan Murphy, graduate anthropology student from Wolfforth said she volunteered with Snow's effort in Guatemala and had an opportunity to help analyze skeletons and excavate graves.

"It's important in areas like Guatemala and Argentina and pretty much anywhere where there's been mass conflict and genocide," Murphy said.

Murphy said Snow's lecture will give help get the word out to students to let them know there are opportunities for anybody wanting to help or get involved with genocide research.

"There's not a lot of people like Clyde Snow around anymore so it's cool that we have the opportunity to get to meet him and hear him speak and hear about first hand accounts of his work," Murphy said.

Julie Perez, a sophomore math major from El Paso, said she didn't know what to expect from the lecture but now is more aware of the emotional strain forensics anthropologists experience and looks forward to learning more.

"I think that it makes my life look boring," Perez said. "He's been in so many countries and done so many things, and the knowledge that he's gained and how's he helped families learn how their families died is amazing."


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