What is Forensic Anthropology?
"Forensic anthropology is the scientific discipline that applies the methods of physical anthropology and archeology to the collection and analysis of legal evidence. Description and identification of skeletonized human remains are standard work for forensic anthropologists, but the expertise of the forensic anthropologist is also applicable to a wide variety of other problems. The common denominator is hard tissues: bones, teeth, and sometimes cartilage" (Burns 1999:3).
Therefore, in order to practice forensic
one must first and foremost study physical anthropology, with an
on skeletal biology, and secondarily, train in archaeology in order to
assist in the search for and excavation of skeletal material. A
anthropologist may also be asked to examine a body that is badly or
decomposed or burned. It is the job of the anthropologist to identify
or not the bones are human, and if they are human, to develop a
profile, which will aid in the identification of the person(s). A
profile consists of the person's ancestry, sex, age at the time of
and stature, as well as any trauma sustained to the skeleton that may
in the identification of the individual, or give indications of cause
manner of death.
What is the difference
of Death and Manner
If you want to become a forensic anthropologist, you have to go to university and study physical anthropology. Physical anthropology is one of four sub-disciplines of anthropology. Cultural anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics are the others. Physical anthropology encompasses topics such as primatology, evolution, and skeletal biology, to name a few. So you have to go to university to get a degree in physical anthropology, and you should try and focus your studies on human osteology. From there, you must continue your education, because in order to practice as a forensic anthropologist, you need a minimum of a master's in physical anthropology with a lot of experience, or a PhD in physical anthropology. However it is possible to study specific aspects of physical anthropology at the master's level, such as skeletal biology. It is also possible to study forensic anthropology at the master's level.
There are no full time forensic anthropologists in Canada, so when skeletal remains are found, typically the police consult a physical anthropologist with a specialty in skeletal biology. Almost all physical anthropologists in Canada teach at universities; others work in museums such as the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa (http://www.civilization.ca/). Forensic anthropologists in Canada belong to the Canadian Association of Physical Anthropology (http://capa.fenali.net/)and, in many cases, to the Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences (http://www.csfs.ca/csfs_journal.aspx). In the United States, the employment situation is similar. However, there is also a professional organization to which physical anthropologists working in the forensic anthropology field can belong, the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (www.csuchico.edu/anth/ABFA/).
Much of the work for forensic
is in the area
of human rights work with organizations like Physicians for Human
Another human rights organization is CIFA, the Center for International
Forensic Assistance (www.cifa.ac/);
it employs forensic scientists from all fields to
do work when needed. Something like this would provide great field
for an up-and-coming anthropologist.