Natural disasters present unique sets of challenges in relation to forensic anthropology and human identification relating to the body itself and to the wider contexts e.g. the loss of local infrastructure. This panel will promote multidisciplinary discussion between practitioners and academics.
Mass casualty events, whether caused by geological, weather or climatic changes, present unique and challenging circumstances in which to conduct the process of human identification. Events such as the floods resulting from the Asian Tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, lightening storms which brought down Air France flight 447 or the landslide in Oso, Washington all necessitated strategic and coordinated approaches to human identification. In addition to the expected challenges relating to the disposition of the victims and the recovery of their remains, the destruction of local infrastructure, the often remote locations, and the presence of local customs relating to the dead all contribute to the intricate task of identifying the deceased. The interdisciplinary and international nature of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) response to natural disasters necessitates discussion and cooperation on a variety of levels, from the individual practitioner to governments; and requires input from those experienced in not only the process of human identification, but also those with knowledge of local customs, religions and languages. Only with effective contribution from all parties can the DVI process be carried out with a smooth efficiency, resulting in the repatriation of the victims to their countries of origin and their families. This panel will bring together practitioners and academics from a variety of anthropological disciplines including those directly involved in the DVI process and those whose backgrounds may inform the manner in which this process is conducted in both developed and developing regions of the globe.