Post-mortal Mobility: Human and Animal Remains on the Move

Romana Bund, BA MA

Supervisor: Prof. em. Dr. Thomas Macho



Preserved remains are immobilized bodies that nevertheless stay in motion. Foundational to Eurocentric knowledge production and science, preserved bodies should not be considered as passive units. With each transport of human and non-human remains, transformation processes are set in motion. With every movement through space and time, their material-semiotic composition changes as well. Human and animal remains on the move are hybrids that have been fed into flows of knowledge and goods and operate between life and death, nature and culture, movement and stasis, as well as myth and fact.

The project places emphasis on human and non-human remains that are linked to the mermaid myth from the 19th century onward. Despite all attempts to remove the mythical from the sciences through rationalization and modern narratives of progress, extinct sea cows (Sirenia), human remains with so-called congenital deformities (Sirenomelia) and objects of Victorian entertainment (Feejee Mermaid) can be found among them. The mermaid myth attached to the remains is intended to function in two ways: to expose colonial, patriarchal, capitalist, and ultimately ableist fantasies and fixations, while at the same time enabling new and different forms of storytelling for situated and embodied knowledges.