Wiliam Haglund Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

Voices from the Graves: Conversation with William Haglund; Director, International Forensic Program of Physicians for Human Rights; 9/22/00 by Harry Kreisler
Photo by Jane Scherr

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Forensic Anthropology

So doing this work led you to want to get more education. Tell us about that and getting a degree in forensic anthropology.

We had a consultant anthropologist from the University of Washington who had done that consulting for about thirty-five years. He was very encouraging to me and said, "Gee, you should just go get a degree."

And this was Clyde Snow.

No, this was Darris Winter. Darris Winter. I had known Dr. Snow from meetings, and he'd done some consulting in the Green River case. And so I pursued my degree. And then I kept pestering Snow about going on an international mission.

[But first] you did more University work.

Yes, I got a Master's and a Ph.D.

What is forensic anthropology?

Well, forensic anything is the application of that discipline in a legal context. So traditionally, forensic anthropology dealt with identification using a human skeleton and that kind of information, to make identifications. Now the niche for forensic anthropology has expanded. We now are doing more scene processing, we're dealing more with flesh remains that are identified, etc.

But traditionally was it a field that related to archaeological work?

No; physical anthropologists, biological anthropologists that dealt with skeletons were mainly involved. When there was a skeletal case that was problematic, usually a bag of bones or a box of bones would be taken to the local physical anthropologist. And then that developed into a specialty.

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