A Statement of Solidarity

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing violence against Black, Asian, Indigenous, and Latine communities in the US, we as a department stand in solidarity against racial injustice, inequality, and white supremacy on our campus, in our wider communities, and in the nation.

Our discipline had an early history of supporting white supremacist views, whether by intention or through lack of imagination. But over the last 70 years, many anthropologists have led the fight against racism and ethnocentrism. As a department, we seek to embrace and advance this latter history, identifying and unpacking the ideologies and processes that have sustained systemic inequality and racism. As a faculty, we seek to teach, research, and write in ways that support the creation of strong, multiply diverse communities in our department, the university, and the wider Boston area.

Teaching and Acting

As anthropologists, we know that racism is not a disordered state of mind that “lingers” or is “residual” in a few individuals. We instead recognize it as a systemic structural support for the flagrantly unequal distribution of resources, rights, and life chances in the contemporary United States. We also recognize that it is more urgent than ever to teach about the ways in which these forms of systemic inequity function and are reproduced over time, both at home and abroad. Better understanding how our world has come to look the way it does is the first step toward empowering students to be the kind of change they want to see. Almost all of the courses offered in the department give students the tools to think about how power inequities of various kinds become naturalized and instantiated in different biological, social, and cultural contexts. Our courses tackle this issue, providing students with the intellectual tools and pedagogical spaces to understand the systems of racialized violence and injustice that enabled the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many others, and the ways in which we might work together to dismantle them.

In addition, we are working to diversify our own anthropology faculty and the voices that are heard in our department. In collaboration with Boston University Diversity & Inclusion, we have developed the following events as part of the Emerging Scholars Program:

  • Indigenous Archaeology & Community Engaged Research in the Americas (Fall 2019 through 2020)
  • Migration Matters: Ethnicity, Race, Labor, and Politics Across Borders (Fall 2020 and Spring 2021)
  • Historical Archaeology of the African Diaspora in the Americas (Spring 2021)
  • Addressing Systemic Racism in Health and Medicine (Fall 2021)
  • Race and Racism in Anthropological Genetics and Genomics (Spring 2022)

Our ongoing work to foster a more equitable and inclusive academic environment has included:

  • Incorporating best practices into the faculty hiring, retention and promotion processes in order to maximize the chances that our faculty embodies the experiences of historically underrepresented groups in our discipline and on campus
  • Developing an annual “climate survey” to identify areas of weakness in our drive to be as inclusive as possible for our diverse student body
  • Collaborating with the CAS Diversity & Inclusion office to help faculty and graduate students develop best practices for fostering inclusive classrooms

Many of our faculty are also working to dismantle structural racism outside the classroom. We join with African American Studies to ask that the University administration take direct action in favor of Black and anti-racist organizations in our community. We also encourage faculty and students to consider a number of individual actions.