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Qualified Quantification & the Human Remains Trade: Computational Methods to See the People Behind the Price Tags

Dr. Damien Huffer

Dr. Damien Huffer (pronouns: he/him/his)

Over the last several years, our work and that of others has brought to light the existence of a wide-spread, complex traffic in a variety of human remains via e-commerce platforms, social media, and other means. Operating in a legal grey area in most jurisdictions, this community of collectors has their own alleged morals, ethics, rules and strategies for evading detection; operating within, yet apart from, the larger global antiquities trade. Monitoring and understanding this trade itself increasingly requires cutting-edge qualitative and quantitative approaches, including machine learning, CNN, and social network analysis. Taking our two most recent papers as starting points, this talk explores the statistical 'mechanics' behind the methods we have used to date to understand how the human remains trade operates, rhetorically and visually. We also discuss our most recent experimental approach to discerning the possible source population of trafficked crania, and contextualize this work with the most up-to-date data available on the size of the trade itself.

Zoom Instructions

The Zoom meeting is password-protected. For password, please contact Will Brown via email: brownw at uw dot edu