Anthropology Department Issues Statement on Race and Diversity

Posted on 10/18/2017 8:30:07 AM

The Anthropology Department faculty unanimously approved a departmental statement on race and diversity. This statement will be included on syllabi, featured on the departmental website, and will guide curriculum development.

The statement reads:

The Anthropology Department is committed to combating racism through fostering inclusive and welcoming spaces for diverse students, and fostering student learning outcomes that expand the understanding of race: particularly, that race is not a biological reality, but that race and racism are cultural and social constructs that intersect with social class and other forms of social positionality to produce harm for people of color in our society and globally.

According to Dr. Amanda Poole, chair of the newly formed Anthropology Department Committee on Race and Diversity, this statement is the first step in a comprehensive revision of student learning outcomes related to race. Poole said, “As a department, we share to our discipline’s commitment to combating racism through anthropological study—an approach that is holistic, cross cultural, and rooted in fieldwork. Student learning outcomes related to race are already central to what we teach in anthropology. However, we felt that it was time to more deliberately and comprehensively work these concepts into our curriculum." She went on to pose a question closely aligned with IUP's Strategic Plan: "When students graduate with a major or minor in anthropology, how are they prepared to live, work, and lead in a diverse society? A major part of this preparation involves building a vocabulary to talk about diversity, and an analytical framework to understand how racism operates, both globally and locally.”

Each of the four sub-fields of anthropology (cultural, archaeological, biological, and linguistic) contribute key anthropological understandings about race. These include: developing more accurate understandings of human biological diversity; exploring how social and cultural constructions of race vary across time and place; examining the intersectionality of race with other social positionalities; and exposing the collective and individual harm caused by racism, including health outcomes for people of color in our society, and historical trauma resulting from slavery, colonialism, and genocide. 

For information on the Department of Anthropology, including our Anthropology in Action Speaker Series visit the Anthropology Department website. Upcoming Anthropology in Action Speakers will tackle topics of race and diversity, including the history and archaeology of confederate monuments, Australian indigenous rights, and illness among farmworkers.

The American Anthropological Association’s statement on race.