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My research and teaching expertise combines forensic sciences and social sciences in the study of death and burial, with a strong focus on post-conflict and human rights investigations. My research interests include the role of archaeology in post-conflict investigations, the relationship between human remains and traumatic memory, and public and media perceptions of forensics.
I was an assistant archaeologist with the United Nation's International Criminal Tribunal for former-Yugoslavia, working on the exhumation and identification of war victims in post-war Kosovo. I have also worked in a consultative capacity for a number of UK police constabularies, working on human identification.
One of my primary research areas is the impact of recent and ongoing exhumations of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War. I carried out extensive field work in communities in rural Spain, assisting in exhumations and conducting ethnographic research with survivors, witnesses, forensic experts and relatives of the dead. I have written extensively on this topic, including a book in 2011, and have presented my work at a large number of national and international meetings and conferences.
My recent research concerns the recovery and commemoration of Australian and British World War I soldiers from Fromelles, Northern France, concentrating on the process of human identification, genetic testing, and the engagement of relatives in this process. I am also looking more broadly at the complex issues associated with the recovery of war dead from post-colonial contexts, and have organised a symposium and a recent special journal issue exploring these themes.
I have a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from Oxford University, and I completed an MSc in Forensic Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. My PhD is in Anthropology, also from UCL.
I joined Kingston University in 2003 and I am now Associate Professor in Forensic Science. I teach topics in forensic archaeology and anthropology and also supervise a broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate research in methods of human identification and skeletal analysis.
My research interests include:Social, political and ethical considerations in the investigation of war and human rights abuses. The archaeological and anthropological investigation of 20th century conflict, particularly the Spanish Civil War and World War I. The relationship between memory and physical evidence, in the investigation of the traumatic past.Media representation of, and public understanding, of exhumations, forensic science and genetics.Methods of human identification and skeletal analysis.I also supervise undegraduate and postgraduate research in aspects of forensic anthroology, in conjunction with the Centre of Human Bioarchaeology at the Museum of London, concerning methods of skeletal identification, skeletal indicators of age, sex and population ancestry, life history reconstruction, nutritional and occupational stress markers, and skeletal and dental pathology.
Renshaw, Layla (2020) Unrecovered objects : narratives of dispossession, slow violence and survival in the investigation of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War. Journal of Material Culture, 25(4), pp. 428-446. ISSN (print) 1359-1835
Ghatora, Baljit, Renshaw, Layla, Burrell, Lisa and Doran, David (2017) Inter-professional learning across the forensic science and paramedic science degrees. Journal of Forensic Research and Analysis, 1(1),
Renshaw, Layla (2017) Anzac anxieties : rupture, continuity, and authenticity in the commemoration of Australian war dead at Fromelles. Journal of War and Culture Studies, 10(4), pp. 324-339. ISSN (print) 1752-6272
Renshaw, Layla (2017) The recovery and commemoration of war dead from post-colonial contexts. Journal of War and Culture Studies, 10(4), pp. 267-271. ISSN (print) 1752-6272
Renshaw, Layla and Powers, Natasha (2016) The archaeology of post-medieval death and burial. Post-Medieval Archaeology, 50(1), pp. 159-177. ISSN (print) 0079-4236
Renshaw, Layla (2013) The dead and their public. Memory campaigns, issue networks and the role of the archaeologist in the excavation of mass graves. Archaeological Dialogues, 20(1), pp. 35-47. ISSN (print) 1380-2038
Renshaw, Layla (2010) The scientific and affective identification of Republican civilian victims from the Spanish Civil War. Journal of Material Culture, 15(4), pp. 449-463. ISSN (print) 1359-1895
Renshaw, Layla (2009) Uncovered: reversals of exposure and concealment in Spain's memory politics. New Literary Observer: Anthropology of Closed Societies, 100,
Renshaw, Layla (2011) Exhuming Loss: Memory, Materiality and Mass Graves of the Spanish Civil War. Left Coast Press. ISBN 9781611320428
Renshaw, Layla (2020) Ethical considerations in the investigation and commemoration of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War. In: Squires, Kirsty , Errickson, David and Márquez-Grant, Nicholas, (eds.) Ethical approaches to human remains : a global challenge in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. Cham, Switzerland : Springer. pp. 519-539. ISBN 9783030329259
Renshaw, Layla (2019) Forensic archaeology and the production of memorial sites : situating the mass grave in a wider memory landscape. In: De Nardi, Sarah , Orange, Hilary , High, Steven and Koskinen-Koivisto, Eerika, (eds.) The Routledge handbook of memory and place. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 99-108. ISBN 9780815386308
Renshaw, Layla (2018) Forensic science as right and ritual in the recovery of World War I soldiers from the mass graves at Fromelles. In: Becker, Annette and Tison, Stéphane, (eds.) Un siècle de sites funéraires de la Grande Guerre. Paris, France : Presses universitaires de Paris Ouest. pp. 205-225. ISBN 9782840163282
Renshaw, Layla (2017) The forensic gaze : reconstituting bodies and objects as evidence. In: Dziuban, Zuzanna, (ed.) Mapping the 'forensic turn' : engagements with materialities of mass death in Holocaust studies and beyond. Vienna, Austria : New Academic Press. pp. 215-236. (Beiträge zur Holocaustforschung des Wiener Wiesenthal Instituts für Holocaust-Studien (VWI)) ISBN 9783700320722
Renshaw, Layla (2013) The Exhumation of Civilian Victims of Conflict and Human Rights Abuses: Political, Ethical, and Theoretical Considerations. In: Tarlow, Sarah and Nilsson Stutz, Liv, (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial. Oxford, U.K. : Oxford University Press. pp. 781-800. (Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology) ISBN 9780199569069
Renshaw, Layla (2013) The archaeology and material culture of modern military death. In: Tarlow, Sarah and Nilsson Stutz, Liv, (eds.) The Oxford handbook of the archaeology of death and burial. Oxford, U.K. : Oxford University Press. pp. 763-780. (Oxford handbooks in archaeology) ISBN 9780199569069
Renshaw, Layla (2010) Missing Bodies Near-at-Hand: The Dissonant Memory and Dormant Graves of the Spanish Civil War. In: Bille, Mikkel , Hastrup, Frida and Flohr Sorenson, Tim, (eds.) An Anthropology of Absence: Materializations of Transcendence and Loss. Springer. pp. 45-61. ISBN 9781441955289
Renshaw, Layla (2007) The Iconography of exhumation: representations of mass graves from the Spanish Civil War. In: Clack, Timothy and Brittain, Marcus, (eds.) Archaeology and the Media. Walnut Creek, California, USA : Left Coast Press. pp. 237-252. ISBN 9781598742336
Renshaw, Layla (2017) Forensic science as ritual and right. In: La Arqueología de la Guerra Civil Española, Federico García Lorca y el Debate Sobre la Memoria Histórica = The Archaeology of the Spanish Civil War: Searching for Federico Garcia Lorca and Shaping the Memory Debate in Spain; 14 - 16 Sep 2017, University of Nottingham. (Unpublished)
Ghatora, Baljit, Renshaw, Layla, Doran, David and Burrell, Lisa (2016) Collaborative learning across the forensic science and paramedic science degrees. In: Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference: Making Connections and Sharing Pedagogy; 30 Jun - 01 Jul 2016, Leicester, U.K.. (Unpublished)