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UConn Anthropology Statement on the MOVE Bombing Case

In response to the realization that remains of victims from the 1985 MOVE bombing in Philadelphia were kept and used by anthropologists for a prolonged amount of time without consent from the victims’ family, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut supports the collective statement released by the Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA), the Society of Black Archaeologists (SBA), and the Black in Bioanthropology Collective (BiBA). We also reaffirm our commitment to the following, as laid out in our Black Lives Matter Solidarity Statement:

 

1)    Boldly and vocally addressing racism, injustice, and discrimination wherever it occurs in society, including within our discipline,

2)    Committing to practice anthropological research that is anti-racist and against all forms of discrimination, and

3)    Improving the lives of Native American, Black, Latinx, and other marginalized populations with whom we work.

 

Given the ongoing investigations into the practices of anthropologists at both the Penn Museum and Princeton University, the Department of Anthropology declares our solidarity with the surviving members of the Africa family.  We also take this opportunity to declare our explicit commitment to critically evaluating our own practices involving human remains. As a part of our department’s stated commitment to equity and anti-racist praxis, we acknowledge that the colonial legacies and historic practices of our field not only contributed to problematic racial hierarchies, but also resulted in the disproportionate representation of communities of color in museum and academic collections of human remains. The history of enslavement in the United States particularly implicates Anthropology and its contribution to the exhibition of Black bodies and narratives of anti-Blackness. We therefore declare our commitment to:

 

1)    Create space for dialogues about both the histories and ongoing issues in our field with regards to racism and anti-Blackness, and

2)    Develop more explicit departmental guidelines to ensure the ethical and respectful treatment of all human remains, including engagement with families, descendent communities, and other relevant stakeholders whenever possible.

Approved by the Department of Anthropology June 18, 2021.

Statement on recent acts of hatred

We are deeply disturbed that the individual arrested on April 29, 2021 for spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti on a building at the University of Connecticut was a major in the department of Anthropology. We condemn this individual’s act in the strongest terms. Such acts go against the core values of our department and our anthropological community and cannot be tolerated. We reaffirm our commitment to anti-racist pedagogy, as declared in our solidarity statement with Black Lives Matter (https://anthropology.uconn.edu/2020/07/07/solidarity-with-black-lives-matter/) and our dedication to educating and empowering UConn students to become agents of change in our collective struggle for a just future. 

Richard A. Wilson named Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor

Dr. Richard Ashby Wilson has been selected as one of 5 faculty members to be honored as Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor. In addition to being a professor with the Department of Anthropology, Wilson serves as the Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Intellectual Life in the School of Law, a Professor of Law, and is the Gladstein Distinguished Chair of Human Rights.

Each year, the Office of the Provost seeks nominations from across UConn for the newest cohort of Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors. Candidates must excel in all three areas of research, teaching, and public engagement. Honorees retain the title of Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor throughout their career at UConn and also receive a $2,500 one-year stipend to be used by each recipient to further their professional activities.

You can learn more about Dr. Wilson’s accomplishments and the other nominees here

Graduate Student Christina Balentine to present current research

UConn Anthropology Graduate student, Christina Balentine, will be giving an exciting online public talk entitled “How humans thrive in extreme environments” for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History on January 21 at 10.30 am.

Description:

When you think of superheroes, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and the X-Men might come to mind. But do you ever think of yourself? Thanks to cultural innovations and genetic adaptation by natural selection, we humans rise to our own super abilities to thrive in seemingly intolerable environments all over the world: at extremely high altitudes in the Himalayas; in freezing cold in the Arctic; and in toxic, arsenic-rich regions in the Andes Mountains, to name just a few. Christina Balentine, an anthropological geneticist and PhD Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, will share her research on the topic and answer your questions as you learn about our own superhuman abilities

Please click this link for more information and instructions to register for FREE!

(description provided by Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)

Graduate Student Megan Alexander Awarded Grant for Research

UConn Anthropology graduate student Megan Alexander, was recently awarded a grant from the Landes Memorial Research Fund to support her dissertation research on death doulas and American notions of a “good” death.

“The Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund was established in 1991 in honor of Ruth Schlossberg Landes, Ph.D. (1908–1991) for interdisciplinary research and publications on subjects that were of interest to Dr. Landes during her professional and academic career”. Competitive applications were evaluated according to the following criteria: “the merit and significance of the applicant’s proposal; the applicant’s qualifications; the relevance of the project to subjects that were of interest to Dr. Landes during her career; and the degree to which grant funds are likely to contribute to the success of the proposed project”. 

Congratulations Megan on your hard work!

Prof. Sarah Willen recently interviewed for UConnToday

The Pandemic Journaling project, co-founded by Professor Sarah Willen was recently featured on UConnToday. The Pandemic Journaling Project was created last may, and is a way for people all over the world to document their experiences during this unprecedented time. The Pandemic Journaling Projects goal is to make sure that ordinary people struggling through this pandemic have their voices heard, and their experiences remembered. This project will serve as a resource for researchers studying how the pandemic has impacted peoples lives. UConn Today interviewed Dr. Willen and members of her team about the project, which you can read more about here.

Dr. Willen is an associate professor here in the department of anthropology. She is also the Director of Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights at UConn’s Human Rights Institute. To learn more about the Pandemic Journaling Project and the unique role that it plays in the documentation of history, be sure to check out the project’s website and start your journal today.

Dr. César Abadia receives SCHARP award

Dr, César Abadía-Barrero was recently awarded a SCHARP award for his project titled “Healing the Land to Attain Peace: A Community-Based Art Project in Rural Colombia”. This project aims to foster a community-led art and ethnographic exhibit of current efforts to build peace in an intercultural rural village of mestizo farmers and two indigenous groups (Uitoto Jurama and Coreguaje) located in Caquetá-Colombia. Through a series of Participatory Action Research (PAR) workshops, a group of 12 people will be trained in photography and “popular ethnography” and will be asked to capture in images and text what Buen Vivir (roughly translated from Andean indigenous languages as Good Living or Living Beautifully) means for them, if and how Buen Vivir was affected by the armed conflict, and how Buen Vivir can help build a long-lasting peace.