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.