Anthropology Statement on Racism

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Vermont is firmly committed to active antiracist efforts.

Recognizing that the discipline of anthropology has a long legacy of racist theory and practice, we simultaneously remain optimistic that the discipline’s history of challenging scientific racism, celebrating diversity, and engaging in social justice work creates an opening for us to strengthen our anti-racist scholarship and teaching. Only through an intentional and careful decolonization of the discipline, and of the spaces of our work therein, is this possible.

As a department in a predominantly white institution in a predominantly white state, we emphasize that our shared commitment to antiracism must address the histories of eugenic science, settler colonialism, indigenous erasure, and white supremacy that are intertwined with our particular institution and those of our state. We strive to make our department, and by extension our university, one that is more than just inclusive, but also inclusively just -- a place where people of diverse backgrounds and identities can grow, learn, thrive, and celebrate those backgrounds and identities We recognize that not everybody who we teach and interact with is in the same place in relation to racism and antiracism: some are just starting the journey while others have known it their whole lives. Some know these things only incidentally, others intersectionally.

We also recognize that being antiracist doesn’t simply involve making a declaration, but also identifying and taking concrete action. As a department, as a community embedded in other communities, and as individuals, we commit ourselves to the following:

  • In the spirit of decolonizing our curriculum, ensuring that our courses provide a wide range of scholars, thinkers, and voices from various cultural, racial, gender, class, and ethnic backgrounds, and revising our curriculum where it does not.
  • Working to ensure that our curriculum and courses meet the needs, interests, and passions of the diverse students with whom we work.
  • Openly acknowledging and creating formal and informal spaces in our courses to address contemporary social movements that challenge ongoing racial injustice in our society, among them the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Promoting and participating in rigorously-informed, critical self-reflection and engaging in willingness to dialogue, especially about individual and institutional complicity in oppressive orders that uphold white supremacy.
  • Exploring ways that white supremacy intersects and interacts with heteronormativity, patriarchy, androcentrism, and class bias.
  • Joining in interventions, in both our local communities and the communities in which we work as anthropologists, to counter systemic, institutional racism.
  • Recognizing the importance of the tool of calling in (as opposed to just calling out) in the   contexts in which we speak and listen.
  • Engaging as active participants in identifying and replacing structures that reproduce inequality in our own institutional spaces with structures that combat inequality and are genuinely transformative.