Department of Archaeology

Research Profile: Derek Congram

December 22, 2010

Derek Congram completed his PhD in archaeology at Simon Fraser University in 2010.

He writes:

Since 1999 I have been working as a forensic archaeologist and anthropologist. This has entailed the usually criminal investigation of crimes involving the disappearance and death of civilians, but also soldiers. I have worked for different groups including the United Nations, the US, Costa Rican and British Columbian legal authorities, non-governmental organizations and legal defence counsel.  I have conducted forensic work in about eight countries including Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq.

My work typically involves the search for and recovery of human remains (eg, excavation of mass graves) and their subsequent analysis.

My PhD research involved helping with the search for missing civilians from the Spanish Civil War — there are tens of thousands of them, mostly from 1936–1937. It’s a private, grass-roots initiative by families of victims, and the Spanish government, according to the United Nations, has shirked its legal responsibilities of investigating these missing civilians. In fact, a Spanish judge for whom I served briefly as an advisor is on trial for attempting to investigate the controversial issue.

To complicate matters further, an Argentine judge is investigating whether or not the Spanish government has been negligent in their failure to investigate. This is a result of Spanish families who fled the war, immigrated to Argentina and who have now petitioned the Argentine courts to act on their behalf investigating their missing family members. The surviving children of the victims are now very elderly and so attention to their cause is really quite urgent.

I am currently doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC-CIL), which is based in Hawai’i. JPAC is a branch of the US Navy that is tasked with the search, recovery, identification and repatriation of US personnel who have died in past conflicts overseas (mostly Korea, Vietnam, WWII).

No comments yet

Recent Blog Posts

  • Job Posting: Postdoctoral Fellowship in Sweden on Microsystems October 19, 2017
    The KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden is looking for postdoctoral applicants to conduct research in the field of RF/microwave/THz microsystems. Apply by October 31, 2017.

  • Job Search Success Online Course October 18, 2017
    Work Integrated Learning is offering an online professional writing and intercultural communication course! Fall session runs October 30 to November 27, 2017.

  • Spring 2018 Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning October 18, 2017
    This part-time program presented by SFU's Teaching and Learning Centre will give you a deeper understanding of how to approach teaching, along with practical skills that you can apply as a teaching assistant or instructor. Apply by October 20, 2017.

View Posts by Category