[WHS] Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War

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Please join us for a Washington History Seminar Panel with Sarah Wagner on Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War

Monday, November 30 at 4:00 pm ET

Click here to register for the webinar

Space in the Zoom webinar is available on a first-come first-serve basis and fills up very quickly, if you are unable to join the session or receive an error message you can still watch on the NHC's Facebook Page or the Wilson Center website.

In What Remains, winner of the 2020 Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing, anthropologist Sarah Wagner explores the U.S. military’s efforts to account for its missing service members of the Vietnam War. She argues that advances in forensic science have changed the way the nation remembers the war’s Missing In Action, whereby the return of remains —“homecomings”—entwine the living with the dead in the project of national belonging enacted on local terms.



Sarah Wagner, George Washington University

Chris McDermott, Department of Defense


Sarah Wagner is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University. She is the author of To Know Where He Lies: DNA Technology and the Search for Srebrenica’s Missing (University of California Press, 2008), and co-author with Thomas Matyók of “Monumental Change: The Shifting Politics of Obligation at the Tomb of the Unknowns,” History & Memory (2018). Her research focuses on post-conflict societies, memory, national identity, and forensic science applied in the wake of war.

Chris McDermott is a 1991 graduate of Appalachian State University where he majored in Anthropology with a minor in Asian Studies. He worked as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and as an archaeologist on historical and prehistorical North American sites. He attended St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he received his Master's degree in Liberal Arts. Next, Mr. McDermott attended Trinity College, Dublin completing the M.Phil degree in Reformation and Enlightenment Studies concentrating in mathematical proofs in the Newtonian era. Following that program, he studied toward a doctorate in the Science and Technology Studies program at Virginia Tech. While working on a dissertation of the history of Forensic Anthropology, he was awarded a fellowship at the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii. He then worked as a historian and then Chief Data Officer for the POW/MIA mission within the Department of Defense.


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