Statement in support of Black Lives Matter

Department of Anthropology & Archaeology: Statement in support of Black Lives Matter

We, the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Bristol, assert and affirm that black lives matter. We commit to working for positive change within our research groups, classrooms, and communities according to our obligations as practitioners of a discipline with a history that is steeped in colonialist violence. In response to the call from the Association of Black Anthropologists, we begin this work “at home” by focusing on and seeking to redress our discipline’s implication in the wider project of white supremacy, and other forms of colonial and racial injustice.

Anthropology was born from European colonialism, and had a key role to play in the development and reinforcement of the myth of biological race. Whether socio-cultural or evolutionary, the discipline’s foundational theories, methods and practices are grounded in epistemologies which construct and support racialised inequalities and which continue to reinforce the oppression of Black, BAME, indigenous and other minority groups around the world.

As anthropologists and archaeologists working in diverse fields intimately connected to colonialism, we recognise and accept our responsibilities to challenge and dismantle systems of oppression. We seek to develop and promote an anthropology which is a force for positive change; which has human well-being, and a respect for human difference as its core values.

We join our voices with others in our discipline and elsewhere in the academy in denouncing and rejecting white supremacy, in calling for justice, and condemning structural racism. We commit to identifying, understanding, and actively disrupting anti-Blackness and other colonialist structures in our research and in our teaching, and join the AAA in pushing for “enduring change” in our discipline.

As part of this effort, we commit to finding concrete routes for change and take active steps towards achieving these goals, including the following:

1. Teaching the past. We will present a critical history of anthropology and archaeology, acknowledge their connections to colonialism, and equip our students with an understanding of our obligations to build a just future for all.

2. Decolonise the curriculum. We will continue to review and monitor our courses, ensuring that that Black voices and Black scholarship are well represented, and that classic theories and methods are contextualised within history.

3. Community building. We will take active steps to create a community of scholarship in our department, and ensure that our Black and BAME students and colleagues feel safe and welcome in our corridors, classrooms, or wherever people are gathered.

4. Teach Equality, Diversity and Inclusion as a transferable skill. As a component of 3, we will introduce the philosophy and practices of EDI as core transferable skills for our degree programmes.

5. Inclusion of BIPOC voices. We will work to ensure that academic events held in our department (conferences, internal seminar series, workshops etc) contain and prioritise a diverse range of scholars and speakers, with a particular emphasis on BIPOC voices.

6. Conduct ethical research. We commit to conducting ethical, non-exploitative research aimed, where possible, at promoting tangible strategies to achieve inclusion, development, and the empowerment and recognition of voices that have been systematically silenced.


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