The idea of FORANTEN (FORensic ANThropology European Network) was born in 2010 after some preliminary discussion during the FASE Symposium in Copenhagen, Denmark and the AAFS symposium in Chicago, USA, and triggered by the appropriate dynamic forensic anthropology context present in Europe. The main idea was to install a new interdisciplinary and international collaboration centered in Europe, in order to improve the development of Forensic Anthropology (FA) practice and science.
What started as an idea in 2010 was finally materialised by an application proposal for the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Initial Training Networks (ITN) call in 2012, thanks to the enthusiasm and effort of the participating institutions, but most importantly the tireless work of the main coordinator-the Department of Physical Anthropology of Aix-Marseille Université (France) with Pr. Pascal Adalian and Forensic Anthropology doctoral students Emeline Verna, Clémence Mopin and Louise Corron. The participants’ hard work and dedication during the intense few months before submission resulted in an evaluation score of 83.4% from the Evaluation Committee (the threshold being 70%).
Even though the project was not funded in that round, the feedback from the EU Evaluation Committee was positive, especially concerning the scientific quality of the project, which scored highest in our application. This was extremely encouraging, as the Commission became familiar with our project, and most importantly agreed with the FA community on the importance and necessity to disseminate and harmonise both research and training of the discipline at an international level.
The helpful comments and the dedication of the participants of FORANTEN to rerun the race led to another submission proposal for the H2020-MSCA-ITN-2014Call, on April 9th. This ITN would provide an optimal framework for improving the future careers of 15 PhD students and multiplying exchanges between forensic anthropology laboratories in Europe.
FORANTEN has brought together researchers from 11 different countries, all of them leading researchers and/or experts in forensic anthropology and related fields (forensic archaeology, medicine, dentisty, biological science, pathology, ethics, social anthropology, and information technology). This partnership covers the different levels of expertise of FA practice by embodying the inter-disciplinarity characteristic for FA.
FORANTEN’s objectives are twofold:
- Develop and agree on normalised identification methods and standardised procedures for the FA communitymeeting all levels of European legal admissibility. The Forensic Anthropological Common Tools (FACT) multidisciplinary e-collaborative platform will provide legacy by supporting research beyond the duration of FORANTEN.
- Harmonise and sustain an integrated European FAtraining, thus providing researchers with the best career prospects by building a solid and durable professional network involving different working environments.
The institutions that agreed to participate in the project are:
• Physical Anthropology Department of Aix-Marseille Université (France) with Prof. Pascal Adalian (main coordinator)
• Department of Physical Anthropology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain) with Prof. Assumpcio Malgosa;
• Centro de Ciências Forense Coimbra (Portugal) with Prof. Eugénia Cunha;
• Centre of Anatomy and Human Identification, University of Dundee (UK) with Prof. Sue Black;
• Laboratorio di Anthropologia e Odontologia Forense, Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy) with Prof. Cristina Cattaneo;
• Institut de Recherche Criminelle de la Gendarmie Nationale, Rosny-sous-Bois (France) with Dr. Yves Schuliar;
• Department of Forensic Odontology, University of Bordeaux (France) with Dr. Christophe Bou;
• Department of Anthropology, Comenius University Bratislava (Slovakia) with Dr. Radoslav Beňuš;
• Unit of Forensic Anthropology, University of Copenhagen (Denmark) with Prof. Niels Lynnerup;
• Edinburgh Unit for Forensic Anthropology, University of Edinburgh (UK) with Dr. Elena Kranioti;
• Department of Anthropology and Human Genetics, Charles University Praha (Czech Republic) with Dr. Jana Velemínska;
• Skeletal Investigation Laboratory, Teesside University, Middlesbrough (UK) with Dr. Tim Thompson;
• Croatian Academy of Sciences and Art- Anthropological Centre, Zagreb (Croatia) with Prof. Mario Šlaus;
• University College Dublin (Ireland) with Dr Rene Gapert;
• The Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux Sociaux, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris (France) with Dr Elisabeth Gessat-Anstett;
• TPLD, Dundee (UK) with Jim Piggott;
• dHal Software, Kifissia (Greece) with Dr. Demetrios Halazonetis;
• International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva (Switzerland) with Dr Morris Tindball-Binz.
The inclusion of both academic and non-academic institutions, including private firms and an international NGO promotes network-wide collaboration and world-wide dissemination, while providing occupational integration possibilities for future FA graduates.
The project will support FASE in its efforts to establish a European system of certification for forensic anthropologists. One of the goals of FORANTEN is to meet FASE Gold Standards for practice harmonization at the end of the four years, which would incorporate the rules of standardisation and uniformity of the forensic practice in Europe, along with a deontological charter specific to FA.
Following the demands of the Council of the European Union published in 2011 on “the creation of a European Forensic Science Area” by 2020, FORANTEN would provide an upstream contribution to the certification initiative by training future researchers in respect of the Council’s requests for the standardization of FA practice.
MEPROCS (New methodologies and protocols of forensic identification by craniofacial superimposition) is a EU-funded project (FP7-SEC 2011), which aims to facilitate the application of craniofacial superimposition in forensic practice by defining protocols, harmonizing methods and establishing best practice for this method.
MEPROCS is coordinated by the European Centre for Soft Computing. It comprises a consortium of seven partners and eight associated partners, among which CORISA (a spin-off from the University of Salerno, Italy), the European Council of Legal Medicine (Germany), the Physical Anthropology Laboratory at the University of Granada (Spain), Israel National Police, the Forensic Science Centre at the University of Coimbra (Portugal), and Guardia Civil (Spain). Two associated partners who collaborate with the project are Policia Judiciaria (Portugal) and Council of Forensic Medicine (Turkey).