Article Critique – The Interface of Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Pathology in Trauma Interpretation
Ubelaker and Smialek in this article address cross-disciplinary collaboration, and from this, a reader learns to appreciate the importance of collaborations across different disciplines. The authors dwell on relationship between forensic anthropology and forensic pathology. The relationship between these two disciplines comes in handy during the process of trauma interpretation. Both forensic anthropologists and forensic pathologists work collaboratively in interpreting trauma in human remains. Without one group of these specialists, reliable trauma interpretation will not be realized.
From this article, it is clear that different knowledge and expertise of professionals in different disciplines can be used collaboratively to bring valid results. In trauma identification, physical anthropologists and forensic pathologists have different knowledge and expertise, though slightly related. The forensic anthropologists are trained in investigating age, sex, ancestry, and living stature of remains. They can also perform postmortem trauma identification. In as much as they can interpret trauma, forensic anthropologists are not fully responsible for the whole process. They collaboratively work with the forensic pathologists.
Forensic anthropologists have the expertise in soft tissue wound interpretation, investigating death, and cause of death analysis; therefore, their results are integrated with those of forensic pathologists for a final interpretation. Forensic pathologists are the most influential in the whole process since they are responsible for determining the results and validity of the results. They are also in charge of interpreting the medicolegal aspects of a case. This instance indicates that in collaborative work, one group may be the most influential depending on the nature of the study undertaken. However, this cannot undermine the other less influential group, since its contribution to the study still matters.
The article also brings out the impact of cross-disciplinary collaboration on other disciplines. The collaboration between forensic anthropologists and forensic pathologists in trauma interpretation is useful in the discipline of law, as the findings help in resolving medicolegal and crime cases. In these cases, forensic anthropologists can examine skeletal anatomy and taphonomic processes of human remains to determine cause and manner of death. Forensic pathologists do final pathological examination, interpretations, and the conclusions, before presentation to the court. To further prove the relationship between the two disciplines, the authors use a 1992 case study of Hawaii. Human remains were discovered in a crime scene and sent to Washington D.C for FBI investigation. The findings were further examined and analyzed by forensic anthropologists, who discovered trauma in the remains. Further forensic pathology analysis approved the anthropological examination findings and indicated more findings, such as homicide. These results were presented to court and were helpful in ensuring justice for the victim, as the defendant was found guilty of manslaughter.
Conclusively, it is clear that the knowledge, expertise, and experience of anthropologists and pathologists complement and supplement each other. Collaboration of these experts ensures more reliable interpretations and conclusions, which would not be reached independently. . Cross-disciplinary collaboration should therefore be encouraged due to its benefits in ensuring valid results. In addition, collaboration should diversified and not just be in the fields of obvious connection.
Ubelaker, Douglas and Smialek, John. “The Interface of Forensic Anthropology and Forensic
Pathology in Trauma Interpretation.” n.d.
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