Anthropology Department’s statement on racial justice and disciplinary decolonization

In early June, our faculty recognized the need to become more intentionally involved in the international racial injustice movement. Below is our department’s position statement. Take note that the document states that we will form a department level standing committee this fall to facilitate and make recommendations regarding the development and implementation of actions consistent with a more active enactment of anti-racism. 

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Statement to our community concerning our commitment to the imperatives of racial justice and disciplinary decolonization 

We, the members of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama, add our voices to the global chorus calling for an end to historically entrenched and systemic forms of state-sanctioned violence targeting Black people. We understand this chorus to be part of a broader imperative to forge a world wherein all BIPoC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) have, to paraphrase Black Lives Matter, “the social, economic, and political power to thrive.” We collectively endorse our professions’ statements confronting racial injustice by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and Society for American Archaeology (SAA), but we especially align with those offered by the Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA) and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), both of which emphatically call for a disciplinary reckoning that involves not only statements of support and agreement, but a pledge to action intended to produce the changes we believe are essential. The ABA specifically calls for anthropologists to “start at ‘home’ – to accept the ways that anthropology has been and continues to be implicated in the project of white supremacy, to lay out a clear path for moving forward” (2020).

In response to that call, we commit to decolonization – to work toward a program, discipline, and academic community free from practices that have perpetuated homogeneity and exclusivity in our membership and scholarship. We will create an environment that is actively anti-racist and inclusive by establishing a committee charged with identifying action steps and making recommendations for overturning the negative effects of discrimination present in our daily interactions, operations, and policies. We expect these steps to encompass instruction, mentorship, recruitment, public engagement, training, and inclusivity, and that the committee will have both internal and external measures of accountability. In these efforts, we see the potential to help reimagine and reshape anthropology into a discipline whose membership, applied work, scholarship, and leadership equitably reflects, values, and celebrates the entirety of humanity.