Widespread protests against police violence and anti-Black racism have recently swept the globe. In the wake of protests in May and June, specifically, many citizens and communities looked to build new momentum in the fight for civil rights and social justice.
The field of archaeology has its own history to confront. Racism, elitism, and colonialism suffuse the discipline and its practices. Although some scholars have been working to unearth these stories and envision a new future for the field, much work remains to be done.
To advance critical conversations about archaeology, a coalition of organizations created a new webinar series. These public dialogues—intended for both scholars and the larger public—are among academics, artists, and community members.
On Wednesday, June 17, the Wenner-Gren Foundation and SAPIENS joined forces to share excerpts from four critically significant and deeply relevant books and a conversation with the authors on how their work speaks to our times. We were delighted to have an opportunity to introduce to a broad audience some of the most important and provocative thinkers working in our field.
This is a moment of reckoning. The murder of George Floyd was not an isolated incident but the latest episode in a long history of anti-Blackness, a form of violence that is deeply rooted and global in its reach. The books featured in this webinar help us understand the workings and origins of this form of violence and its infiltration into every corner of our societies. At the same time, these books mobilize the power of the anthropological imagination to show what it might take to make a better world. At this moment of sadness, anger, and possibility, these books are essential reading for anyone worried about where we’ve come from and what to do next.
Laurence Ralph, Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University and Director of the Center on Transnational Policing. The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence.
Christen Smith, Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin. Afro-Paradise: Blackness, Violence, and Performance in Brazil.
Savannah Shange, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Progressive Dystopia: Abolition, Anti-Blackness, and Schooling in San Francisco.
Deborah A. Thomas, R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology, and the Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania. Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair.
Chip Colwell, Editor-in-Chief, SAPIENS
Eshe Lewis, SAPIENS Public Fellow
Danilyn Rutherford, President, Wenner-Gren Foundation