It is both a pleasure and a privilege to be asked to write an afterword to a collection of essays concerning a topic that for many years has lain at the core of my interests in the behavior of past societies. When, in the early 1990s, I first embarked on the study of deviant burials—and more on that particular turn of phrase in a moment—mortuary archaeology writ large had shifted in its emphasis from the descriptive and typological approaches that had typified its early development, through concerns about hierarchy and ranking, and had turned increasingly to nuanced social considerations. Life cycle and gender, illness and care, among other topics, steadily grew in importance as worthy of study. Twenty-five or so years ago, however, descriptions of people at the fringes of their respective societies were hard to find in the archaeological literature: “otherness” as a concept materialized in the burial record was largely unexplored beyond a few graphically spectacular and deeply intriguing finds, such as the northern European bog-bodies or the Andean mummified children....
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