Anthropology, Forensic, pop-culture, forensic anthropology, Bones, popular science, forensic TV, Crime drama


This exploratory research examines the discussion of “race” in popular cultural media in a forensic anthropological context. The TV series Bones was used as a sample site for a cultural comparative analysis. This research critically compares popular culture understandings of “race” or ancestral heritage as depicted in Bones with a specific, newly developed method that forensic anthropologists apply in actual lab procedures in combination with other methods to determine ancestral heritage as depicted in textbooks. This research project has two phases. The first phase is a media analysis of discussions and depictions of ancestral heritage in episodes of Bones; the second phase uses osteology lab work with biological specimens in the Portland State University and Portland Community College Sylvania Campus osteology collections. People may acquire science literacy through popular culture and social media sources, and inaccurate depictions and misapprehensions may adversely affect people’s understanding of human biological diversity and ancestral heritage. This study contributes to the ongoing effort in biological anthropology to undo the concept of biological “race” and to portray accurate information about how human variation occurs on gradients or clines by examining possible influences in the public’s understanding of science from popular media representations to create better overall science literacy concerning human variation.



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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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