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Lena Muders, M.A.

PhD Candidate

Lena Muders

University of Bonn
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Research Associate in Research Group Marking Power: Embodied Dependencies, Haptic Regimes and Body Modification
Niebuhrstraße 5
D-53113 Bonn



Post-mortal Asymmetrical Dependencies:
The Treatment of Human Remains in Museum Contexts as a Cross-cultural and Postcolonial Ethical Challenge

The research project aims to investigate the practices of collecting, caretaking, presenting and treatment of human remains in museums from a historical and anthropological perspective. The project investigates the treatment of human remains in museums in Germany and in Bolivia, to explore the impact of the ascribed scientific and cultural significances of human remains on the respective practices and on the perception of human remains as "sensitive collections", and the moral and ethical conflicts and potentials originating from the cross-cultural negotiation of respective procedures.

A multi-perspective analysis of these complex practices may contribute to consciously relativizing one's own premises through the knowledge of possible alternatives, which could reduce eurocentrism and at the same time be conductive to a culture sensitive and fruitful international and cross-cultural dialogue with agents of source communities and nation states. This way, consensual agreements for an ethically adequate treatment of human remains in museum contexts may be furthered.

The key research questions are: What are the meanings and practices concerning human remains in selected German and Bolivian museums? How are they influenced by local and translocal cultural meanings and practices? Whose cultural conventions are taken into consideration within the current debate about the practices of treatment of human remains and to what extend? How do these practices represent and (re)produce asymmetric dependencies and power relations? What can be done to equalize the relationship and negotiation between different actors involved – including the human remains as deceased persons' bodies?


  • 2020–2023        Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology, Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2016–2020        M.A. in Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Marburg, Germany
  • 2012–2016        B.A. in Anthropology and Archaeology of the Americas, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2014–2015        Anthropology and Archaeology, University of San Andrés, La Paz, Bolivia

Academic Positions

Participation in Centers, Scientific Associations and Collaborative Projects

  • 2019                 Organization of a panel at the international conference "Visions of Future in the Americas", June 12–14, 2019,
                             University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2019                 Curatorial Committee, Exhibition "Kollision Azteken Spanier 1519", Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany
  • 2015                 Curatorial Committee, Exhibition "Azteken Einst und Heute", Bonner Altamerika-Sammlung, Germany


  • "Ihr, meine Farben, sollt mich schmücken, noch im Tod": Eine Ethnographie des Couleurbandes der Studentenverbindungen. In: Schweitzer de Palacios, D., Muders, L., Kaviany, S. (eds.): Am Anfang war das Objekt: Die Ethnographische Sammlung der Philipps-Universität Marburg und die Annäherung an ihre Gegenstände. Frankfurt a. M. 2020.
  • Pflanzen – Menschen – Tiere – Götter. In: Muders, L., Braun, K., Hüpper, N.K., Haslach, M. (eds.): Kollision 1519 Azteken Spanier: Begleitbuch zur Ausstellung des Lehrforschungsprojekts im B.A. Vergleichende Kultur- und Religionswissenschaft der Philipps-Universität Marburg. Marburg 2019.
  • Ein Vaterunser aus Ton. In: Herkenrath, K., Becker, T. (eds.): Rheinische Wunderkammer: 200 Objekte aus 200 Jahren Universität Bonn 1818–2018. Göttingen 2017.
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