Webinar 3/3: The Fire This Time: Black and Indigenous Ecologies

We are excited to announce the next webinar sponsored by the Society of Black Archaeologists, Indigenous Archaeology Collective, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, and the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Michigan. Join us March 3, 2021 from 4-6 pm EST  “The Fire This Time: Black & Indigenous Ecologies by registering here.

The seminar will be moderated by Dr. Peter Nelson (Coast Miwok & citizen of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria; UC Berkeley) and panelists include Diné artist Jerrel Singer, Dr. Isabel Rivera-Collazo (UCSD), Dr. Kristina Douglass (Penn State) and Dr. Justin Hosbey (Emory University).

The webinar will be hosted on Zoom and live-streamed via Vimeo. Live CART captioning will be provided and live translation will be offered in Spanish and French. The event will be recorded and available for later viewing.

This virtual panel discussion is part of a year-long series that features transformational approaches to archaeological storytelling. More information on the event series can be found here.

The Fire This Time: Black and Indigenous Ecologies from Wenner-Gren Foundation on Vimeo.

Motion of the 32nd RBA: Diversify Information and Education about the Global Anthropologies of Foreign Researchers and Anthropology Students

On November 6, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Association of Anthropology passed the following motion:


Gustavo Lins Ribeiro (Universidade de Brasília), Carmen Rial (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina).

Addressed to: graduate programs in anthropology in Brazil, the World Council of Anthropological Associations, the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), the Associação Latino Americana de Antropologia, the European Association of Social Anthropologists, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (New York), the Ford Foundation (Rio de Janeiro and New York), World Anthropologies – section of the American Anthropology Journal, Director of the Division of Social and Economic Sciences of the US National Science Foundation  and its equivalents in the United Kingdom and France

Considering the unequal academic exchanges within the global academic system and in an effort to establish international exchanges that are more horizontal, fair and solidary, which can diversify and increase the global cross fertilization, the Associação Brasileira de Antropologia  [Brazilian Association of Anthropology] has identified the following needs, and calls for all entities, agencies and agents involved in the pluralization of international anthropological knowledge to implement the following measures:

  1. To avoid cognitive extractivism:
  • Only finance research projects to be conducted abroad that clearly demonstrate knowledge of work produced by local academics by citing literature in the local language about pertinent issues;
  • Indicate the need for the involvement of foreign researchers with the local academic community where research is conducted by means of their presence in graduate courses in the country in question;
  • Clearly instruct foreign researchers to consider local academics as partners and not as informants, and to cite them properly.

2. To increase the diversity of knowledge about global anthropologies:

  • Offer courses that reflect the international diversity of contemporary anthropological production, by including an expanded range of authors and traditions and avoiding the automatic reproduction of hegemonic paradigms that are controlled by a limited number of academic centers;
  • Journals should publish articles by anthropologists from a variety of countries;
  • Pluralize the composition of editorial boards and their policies, considering the diversity of international perspectives, interests and styles.

On February 23, 2021, the Wenner-Gren Foundation issued the following letter of endorsement:

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, I’d like to express my whole-hearted endorsement of the Motion of the 32nd RBA: Diversify Information and Education about the Global Anthropologies of Foreign Researchers and Anthropology Students.

The measures that strike closest to the heart of our work are the following, which we quote directly from the Motion:

To avoid cognitive extractivism:

  • Only finance research projects to be conducted abroad that clearly demonstrate knowledge of work produced by local academics by citing literature in the local language about pertinent issues;
  • Indicate the need for the involvement of foreign researchers with the local academic community where research is conducted by means of their presence in graduate courses in the country in question;
  • Clearly instruct foreign researchers to consider local academics as partners and not as informants, and to cite them properly.

Wenner-Gren is dedicated to broadening the conversation in anthropology to represent the full diversity of the field.  As part of this effort, we will strive to implement these measures.   We have taken steps to enhance the training our reviewers receive to ensure that they take these important commitments into account.  We will prioritize funding for research meeting these criteria.

As the sponsor of SAPIENS and Current Anthropology, our work bears on these measures, as well:

  • Journals should publish articles by anthropologists from a variety of countries;
  • Pluralize the composition of editorial boards and their policies, considering the diversity of international perspectives, interests and styles.

The editors-in-chief of these publications have taken strides to accomplish these objectives – and are committed to doing even more in the years to come.

Thank you so much for this forceful statement.

Very sincerely,

Danilyn Rutherford
President, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz (2009-2017)
Assistant and Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago (1998-2009)

Webinar 3/1: Anthropology and the Public: Pressing Questions, Responsibilities and Opportunities

On Monday, March 1st, 4PM – 6PM (EST), Cool Anthropology invites you to attend a virtual workshop, Anthropology and the Public: Pressing Questions, Responsibilities and Opportunities. 

What are the most critical questions for anthropologists right now? And in what spaces should we be answering them? This workshop seeks to ask — and go some distance to answering — these questions. Bringing together a wide network of anthropologists from across disciplines and around the world, this event will be a multi-roomed, interactive virtual event to workshop critical ideas and areas where anthropology and anthropologists can engage and offer a strong contribution to the public good.

Click here to register for this event.

This event is being sponsored by The Wenner-Gren Foundation, The New York Academy of Sciences, NYAS Anth, and Berghahn Books.

Identifying the Hidden Costs of Archaeological Field Schools: A Survey from the Coalition of Archaeology Centers

This survey seeks information on student experiences with managing the financial costs of archaeological field schools, including the experiences of those who were unable to attend a field school because of costs or other exclusionary factors. In particular, we seek to understand how hidden costs may be making participation difficult, creating a roadblock to a fully inclusive discipline. The survey should require only 5-8 minutes of your time.

Click here to start the survey.

This survey has been developed by a consortium of academic programs in archaeology in collaboration with the Society of Black Archaeologists, the Indigenous Archaeology Collective, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and SAPIENS. Our shared goal is to find ways to improve student experiences and the diversity of the next generation of researchers. You can find the list of the archaeological centers that are sponsoring this survey at this link. The survey is intended for students whose primary training has been at a US-based educational institution. If you attended more than one field school, please base your responses on your first experience.

This survey is fully anonymous. No identifying information will be captured with your responses. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

Meet Our Wadsworth International Fellows: Syon Vasquez

With the support of the Wadsworth International Fellowship Syon Vasquez will continue his training in archeology at University of California, Los Angeles, under the supervision of Richard Lesure. Read the previous entry in the series here.

I initially became interested in archaeology when I participated in excavations at an ancient Maya site in my home country of Belize. Subsequently, I pursued the personal interest that this initial experience engendered by taking up further instruction in archaeology at the University of South Florida, where I completed my BA in anthropology. While at the University of South Florida I undertook fieldwork and research investigating geoglyphs and early state formation on the southern coast of Peru. Additionally, I received training in both paleoethnobotanical as well as geoarchaeological methods.

This diverse background in archaeological theory and methods has given rise to my interest in various questions about past human activity in Belize and its surrounding regions. As it pertains to the pre-Columbian period, I am interested in examining early state formation in Mesoamerica. In particular, I would like to look at whether the same correlation between the proliferation of ritual activity and the emergence of incipient social inequality that I observed in my research on the southern coast of Peru, also occurs at early Mesoamerican sites.

Another one of my interests has to do with the archaeology of the colonial period in Belize. This is a subject that I have had an opportunity to survey more closely during the past several months which I have spent back home in Belize due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent transition to online learning at UCLA. I have observed firstly, that the colonial period is severely understudied and secondly, that there is an abundance of colonial materials ripe for analysis employing archaeological methods. Thus, I am currently looking into the colonial architecture of the country’s largest city, Belize City and the mix of African, Indigenous and European architectural traditions that it preserves.

The fluidity of my research interests at this early stage in my scholarly career informed my decision to take up doctoral studies in the Interdepartmental Program in Archaeology at UCLA. My goal while at UCLA is to draw on the anthropology faculty’s wide array of interdisciplinary skillsets to enhance the holism of my training as an anthropologist, as well as to aid me in elaborating on my existing research interests.


Webinar 2/19: Africanising Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology: Decolonization, Race and Inequality

Starting on Friday, February 19th, 11:00 AM (EST), 4:00 PM (GMT), the African Oxford Initiative will be premiering their new webinar series, The Future of Archeology in Africa and the Diaspora. Be sure to check out the first in the series, Africanising Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology: Decolonization, Race and Inequality.

To register for this event click here.


The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and increasing global inequalities, suggest that archaeology must reinvent itself to go beyond colonial applications and provide models of alternative knowledge that have the potential to contribute towards sustainable development.

The webinars will feature experts from around the world to explore questions such as:

  • Who receives and benefits from funding for research?
  • Can we apply Africa’s archaeological and cultural heritage to contribute to sustainable development, trans-cultural education and social justice?
  • Will Africa ever get improved infrastructure for research?
  • How can we reinvent archaeology with positive knock-on effects to social justice?


  • Prof Shadreck Chirikure, University of Oxford
  • Prof Iddir Amara, Algiers
  • Prof Rebecca Rogers Ackermann. University of Cape Town
  • Prof Kristina Douglass, Penn State University
  • Dr Freda Nkirote, British Institute in Eastern Africa
  • Prof Innocent Pikirayi, University of Pretoria
  • Prof Ibrahima Thiaw, FAN, Senegal

The series continues on:

Friday, March 19th, 12:00 PM (EST), 5:00 PM (GMT), – African Archaeology at Home and in the Diaspora: Funding & the Role of Professional Associations. Click here to register for this event.

Friday, April 23rd – (Time TBA) – Archaeological Science in Africa and the Diaspora: Present Situation and Future Prospects. Click here for more information about this event.

These globinars are hosted in partnership with TORCH Oxford, St Cross College, Oxford’s School of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, University of Cape Town, Great Zimbabwe University, Pan African Congress for Prehistory and Related Studies, Society for Black Archaeologists, Society for Africanist Archaeologists, SAPIENS, and Wenner Gren Foundation.

Webinar: New Tools for ‘Distanced’ Anthropological Research: Webscraping and Ethnography of Digital Cultures in/of Africa

On February 15th, 16th and 25th the Wenner-Gren Foundation is sponsoring a series of webinars entitled, New Tools for ‘Distanced’ Anthropological Research: Webscraping and Ethnography of Digital Cultures in/of Africa, organized by Serena Stein, Wageningen University & Research, and Louisa Lombard, Yale University.

This event is a Webinar Tutorial on Webscraping for researchers and students with little prior
experience, and a Roundtable on Digital Ethnography about Africa and by African scholars.

Part I: The Webinar will introduce beginners to the possibilities of webscraping as a tool for
digital research. How can webscraping help launch a research project, complement in-person fieldwork, and triangulate findings? What are limitations and technical, analytical, and ethical concerns? The tutorial presumes no prior experience in webscraping, and will use ethnographic-friendly examples. This will be led by Kevin McElwee of the Princeton University Center for Digital Humanities.

Part II: The Roundtable convenes an exciting group of researchers and scholars on African digital cultures and social media, including the technological, regulatory, political, ethical, and cultural context of African digital lives as people access and innovate online.

To register for these events please click the links below:

February 15th 11:00 AM (EST) – Register here.

Februrary 16th 11:00 AM (EST) – Register here.

February 25th 5:00 PM (EST) – Register here.


Julie Soleil Archambault, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia

Bio: Julie Soleil Archambault is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the
Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University. She received her
PhD in Anthropology for the School of Oriental and African Studies (U. of London), and
is the author of Mobile Secrets: Youth, Intimacy and the Politics of Pretense in
Mozambique (2017). She recently completed a project on the political and affective
economies of cement in Mozambique, and is currently working on a book project on the
anthropology of sweat. She is also co-editor of AFRICA: Journal of the International
African Institute.

Jess Auerbach, Department of Social Anthropology, North-West University, South

Bio: Jess Auerbach is the author of From Water to Wine: Becoming Middle Class in
Angola. She is Program Director for the School of Social Sciences at North West
University, and writes regularly for public media around the world. She is currently
working on two book projects, Conscripted Communalism which explores ethnicity and
politics in Mauritius, and Everyday Kindness, a popular book on how South Africans
have supported one another through the Covid-19 pandemic. She holds a PhD from
Stanford University.

Chambi Chachage, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS),
Princeton University

Bio: Chambi Chachage (@Udadisi) is the African Humanities Postdoctoral Research
Associate and Lecturer at Princeton University where he teaches a course on Health,
Race, and Power in Africa in the Digital Age. He is the coeditor, with Annar Cassam, of
a book on Africa’s Liberation: The Legacy of Nyerere and an article on From Citizenship
to Netizenship: Blogging for social change in Tanzania. He is also a founding blogger of
Udadisi and history editor of The Africa I Know (TAIK).

Nicky Falkof, Department of Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand

Bio: Nicky Falkof (@barbrastrident) is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at the
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She has a PhD in Humanities and
Cultural Studies from the London Consortium, University of London. She is the author of
The End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa
(2015), and co-editor of Anxious Joburg: The Inner Lives of a Global South City (2020)
and Intimacy and Injury: In the Wake of #MeToo in India and South Africa (forthcoming
2021). Her work focuses on race, anxiety and the media in the urban global south.

Divine Fuh, HUMA – Institute for Humanities in Africa, University of Cape Town

Bio: Divine Fuhis a social anthropologist from Cameroon, and Director of HUMA –
Institute for Humanities Africa at the University of Cape Town. His research focuses on
the politics of suffering and smiling, particularly on how urban youth seek ways of
smiling in the midst of their suffering. He has carried out research in Cameroon,
Botswana, South Africa and Senegal. His new research focuses on AI and the ethics of
being; and on the political economy of Pan-African knowledge production.

Larissa Kojoue, African Studies Center, Leiden University

Bio: Larissa Kojoué is a Cameroonian based researcher in political science and assistant
lecturer in political studies at the University of Buea Cameroon. She is a research
associate at the University of Paris/IRD/CEPED. Research areas include: Health public
policies, State and citizenship, digital cultures, gender, sexualities and human rights. She
is the author of “Tu seras Docteur.e mon enfant. African PHD student Experiences and
Research perspectives:” https://www.editions-harmattan.fr/index.asp?navig=catalogue&obj=livre&no=58274. Her current work focuses on Digital cultures, gender, sexuality and power dynamics in Contemporary Cameroon.

Sibel Kusimba, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida

Bio: Sibel Kusimba is an anthropologist at the University of South Florida. She has conducted anthropological and archaeological fieldwork in Kenya on topics ranging from inter-ethnic cooperation, to leadership, to environmental change, to the origins of trade. Since 2012 she has explored the impact of digital money and digital finance in Kenya. Her book Reimagining Money: Kenya in the Digital Finance Revolution explores digital money in Kenya, a leading site for financial technology. The book describes the myriad new uses and practices with digital money, including e-money transfer, digital loans, and crowdfunding. Professor Kusimba’s mobile money research has also been published in the peer-reviewed journals Information Technology in International Development, The African Studies Review, and Economic Anthropology. Her work is also featured in an IMTFI video and a webinar Wednesday through the American Anthropological Association. She has spoken to The East African, The Voice of America, and Business Daily Africa about mobile money in Kenya and her research has been featured in Next Billion.

Azeb Madebo, Communication, University Southern California

Bio: Azeb Madebo is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Southern California’s
Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her research interests and work
have centered topics regarding development, civic imagination and networked
mobilization in Ethiopia and its diaspora. Her dissertation fieldwork and research, funded
by USC’s Graduate School Research Enhancement Fellowship, will consider the
relationship between imagination, civic engagement, technology (social media), and
discourses of futurity within Ethiopia.

Dani Madrid-Morales, University of Houston

Bio: Dani Madrid-Morales (@DMadrid_M) is an assistant professor of journalism at the
Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, University of Houston. He studies global
political communication (State-sponsored news, political mis/disinformation, social
media use), with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. He teaches courses on
media and globalization, quantitative research methods, and international mass
communication at the University of Houston, and computational text analysis at National
University of Singapore. Dani is currently working on developing an live multilingual
database of African digital news content for text mining.

Kevin McElwee, Research Software Developer, Princeton University Center for Digital

Bio:At the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton University, Kevin is a programmer
helping professors and graduate students with their data-driven research. He’s also
building algorithms and neural networks that mimic artists, like Bach and Mondrian,
exploring how artificial intelligence will challenge what we value in art and researching
how automation can be used as a source of inspiration. Before Princeton, he worked in
the energy sector, building machine learning models that increase efficiency on the
electrical grid. He freelances as a data journalist.

Cierra Robson, Harvard University

Bio: Cierra Robson is the Associate Director of the Ida B. Wells JUST Data Lab at
Princeton University where she guides research teams in partnership with community
organizations to explore how data can be retooled for racial justice. Additionally, Cierra
is a doctoral student in the Sociology and Social Policy program at Harvard University
where she is a Malcolm Hewitt Wiener PhD Research Fellow in Poverty and Justice.
Broadly, her research explores the ways in which technological advancements both
reinforce and revolutionize racial inequality in the United States, particularly within the
criminal justice system. She holds a BA in African American Studies from Princeton
University, where she specialized in studies of race and public policy and pursued a
minor in Technology and Society.

Carmeliza Rosário, Social and Development Anthropology, University of

Bio: Carmeliza is a social and development anthropologist with a focus on women and
vulnerable groups. She is a PhD candidate at University of Bergen and associate
researcher at Kaleidoscopio. Her current research interests are knowledge production in
and on Mozambique. Together with researchers at Kaleidoscopio, she has been
monitoring social media regarding political and social commentary. She is also an
associate researcher affiliated with CMI, where she is part of the project “Political
determinants of sexual and reproductive health: Criminalisation, health impacts and game
changers.” As part of this project the research team has conducted webscraping for news
and articles in the media around abortion and LGBT issues.

Alette Schoon, senior lecturer at the School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University

Bio: Alette’s research projects include producing inserts for SABC2 on culture and development, educating and training professional journalists in new approaches to TV News and exploring the impact of mobile media. Previous research explored how media-savvy hip-hop artists from low-income neighbourhoods use their mobile phones in conjunction with computers and laptops to produce innovative media ecologies.

Wendy Willems, Associate Professor, Deputy Head of Department, Department of Media and Communications, The London School of Economics and Political Science

Bio: Wendy Willems also serves as Programme Director for the MSc Global Media and Communications (LSE and University of Cape Town). Her research expertise includes global digital culture and social change; urban communication; postcolonial/decolonial approaches to media and communication; popular culture; performance and politics in Africa; media culture and neoliberalism in the Global South.


Serena Stein, Sociology of Development & Change and Rural Sociology, Wageningen
University & Research

Bio: Serena is an anthropologist and researcher at Wageningen University & Research in
The Netherlands. She is preparing a manuscript called Kindred Frontiers based on
research following smallholder farmers and socioecological changes during Brazil’s drive
for agribusiness expansion in Mozambique over the past decade. New projects examine
evidentiary and racial politics around carbon sequestration in soil and regenerative
farming movements; multimedia approaches to commodity frontiers; and a study of
farmers in the United States in the pandemic. Serena is co-organizer of the Mangrove
CoLAB, supported by the SSRC’s Indian Ocean Transregional Collaboratory, which
brings together Mozambican and Indian scholars and practitioners to investigate linkages
in extraction, agrarian change and coastal restoration across the Global South.

Louisa Lombard, Department of Anthropology, Yale University

Bio: Louisa Lombard is an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University. She
conducts ethnographic and historical research on conflict, peacebuilding and
peacekeeping, rebellion, access to justice/rule of law, migration, and conservation,
primarily in Central Africa. She is the author of two solo-authored monographs, State of
Rebellion: Violence and Intervention in the Central African Republic (Zed/Chicago,
2016) and Hunting Game: Politics in the Central African Interior (Cambridge, 2020).
She is currently working on three research projects: a study of violence and religion in
sub-Saharan Africa; a comparative study of the experiences of Central African migrants
and refugees within Central Africa and in Greece, and a study of how military
peacekeepers charged with protecting civilians in the midst of violent conflict understand
their work and the moral dilemmas it entails.


Watch Now! African Diasporic Activist Scholarship: Beyond the Enlightenment, Toward the Democratization of Science

On Monday, February 22nd, the New York Academy of Sciences hosted, “African Diasporic Activist Scholarship: Beyond the Enlightenment, Toward the Democratization of Science.” Watch it now!

The African Burial Ground National Monument is as much an edifice to the democratization of knowledge as it is to sacred space for the sanctity of black lives. New York’s African Burial Ground Project (1992-2009) took seriously the observable fact of intrinsic scientific subjectivity to enable its ethical choice to work on behalf of a descendant community’s research concerns regarding their past (the clientage model of public engagement). That Project did not default to the untestable but common notion of neutral knowledge as its authority and shield. Historically, black scholars have seen such notions as neutrality perform as a manifestation of the construction of Whiteness, arrogating to that group authoritative tools by which to ascertain universal, natural truths; truths which often empower the powerful and denigrate ‘the other.’ Recognizing that all research is socially-positioned (as Frederick Douglass argued it should be), the main branch of African diasporic intellectual traditions has deliberately informed restorative justice, historic vindication, and the human dignity of Blacks against an often dehumanizing and exclusivist White academic mainstream. These intellectuals simultaneously value and adhere to rules of evidence and experience to inform their critical humanism, social, and biological science approaches. The African Burial Ground, profound in its local historic and political setting at the turn of the 21st century, has also been a watershed of a new form of archaeology and historic interpretation, now codified by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, embraced by publics, and contested in the academic world. The discussion of this session revolves around the site’s impact on archaeological practice, academe, public education and memorialization.


Michael L. Blakey

National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Anthropology, Africana Studies, and American Studies, and Founding Director of the Institute for Historical Biology at the
College of William & Mary

Peggy King Jorde

Cultural Projects Consultant, design professional, activist, and a Harvard Loeb Fellow

Rachel Watkins

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies at American University


Michael L. Blakey is National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Anthropology,
Africana Studies, and American Studies, and Founding Director of the Institute for Historical
Biology at the College of William & Mary. Dr. Blakey was a Key Advisor of the award-winning
Race: Are We So Different exhibition of the American Anthropological Association, where
he held several offices including president of the Association of Black Anthropologists
(1987-1989) and member of the editorial board of American Anthropologist (2012-2016). Blakey represented the United States on the Council of the 4th World Archaeological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa (1999). He is a member of the Scholarly Advisory Committee of the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution, where he previously held the position of Research Associate in Physical Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History (1985-1994). He was Scientific Director of the New York African Burial Ground Project (1992-2009), the most extensive bioarchaeological project in the United States. The Manhattan site became a U.S. National Monument in 2007.


Peggy King Jorde is a Cultural Projects Consultant, design professional, activist, and a Harvard Loeb Fellow recognized for her extraordinary efforts to preserve New York City’s African Burial Ground. As Director of Memorialization, King Jorde spearheaded efforts for the national monument & historic district, the Interpretive Center, and the reburial of more than 400 African ancestors. Harvard Magazine’s article “Life By Design” chronicles Peggy’s journey from her native Albany, Georgia, to her academic pursuits at Harvard School of Design. King Jorde brings a wide range of experience in civic development, from providing project oversight for New York’s most iconic museums and cultural institutions to chairing blue-ribbon committees, including the Malcolm X Memorial with the late Dr. Betty Shabazz to being a key influencer on art panels tasked with commissioning art for public spaces. Formerly a special adviser to NYC Mayor David N. Dinkins, King Jorde currently lends considerable focus to campaigns that protect disenfranchised histories. She is working with global stakeholders to preserve an African Burial Ground on St. Helena, UK, in the South Atlantic. She is an impact producer & film participant for a London based documentary about preserving the Liberated African Burial Ground and Depot.

Rachel Watkins is a biocultural anthropologist with an emphasis on African American biohistory and social history, bioanthropological research practices and histories of (US) American biological anthropology. Initially trained in skeletal biology, her work focused on looking at relationships between health, disease, and social location in people whose remains are in the W. Montague Cobb anatomical collection and interred at the New York African Burial Ground. Studies were carried out in the scholar-activist tradition of deconstructing racialized interpretations of human biology, and the centering of Black bodies in constructing racial categories and hierarchies. This research led to a broader interest in how African American skeletal remains and living populations were centered in the development of research practices and racial formation in US biological anthropology. Current projects continue to draw on intellectual and political work tied to Cobb and his laboratory from 1932 to the present as sites for understanding science as a social practice. This includes: 1) traditions of Black scholar-activism contesting scientific racism; 2) our field’s efforts toward critiquing scientific racism without attending to structural racism; and, 3) the positionality of scientific researchers.

Meet Our Wadsworth International Fellows: Thoiba Saeedh

With the support of the Wadsworth International Fellowship Thoiba Saeedh will continue her training in social anthropology at University of Munich, Munchen, Germany supervised by Frank Heidemann.

My scholarly interests are two-pronged; I am interested in modernity and the transformations of place through new technologies and infrastructures, and the bodily interactions with and around new landscapes of technology. It is by studying the spaces of intersection between infrastructures and bodily experiences that I aim to explore new understandings of the complex relationship between material and immaterial and things and bodies.

Drawing on the scholarly works on space/place, I study the lived experiences in these spaces of intersection, experiences that I observe are emotional, performative and contested and reveal notions of sociality, identity and meaning making processes. To achieve this, I focus my research on the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge or the Sinamale’ Bridge of Maldives, the largest infrastructure project in the small-island developing nation. I view the bridge as a key monument that provides a backdrop for inquiries into social spaces filled with ambiguity, tension and anxieties.

I am grateful to commence my PhD under the guidance of Prof. Frank Heidemann at the Ludwig Maximilian Universität München, at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology. I had the pleasure to meet and accompany Prof. Heidemann on his study tour in Dhaalu Atoll of Maldives in 2020, the trip ending shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic re-shaped our lives in 2020 and beyond.

I have received my anthropology training in Australia and the United Kingdom. In 2018 I completed my Masters by Research in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh on a British Chevening Scholarship. In 2015 I received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Sociology, at the University of Melbourne on an Australia Awards Scholarship. At present, I hold a Senate Board position at the Islamic University of Maldives, by appointment by the Minister of Higher Education, Maldives. I am a part of the research team on the inter-disciplinary research project BRINFAITH, of the University of Hong Kong.

I begin my PhD in challenging times, virtually connected to my supervisor and cohorts in Germany, in our different time zones. As a native anthropologist, I am excited to contribute to an anthropology of the Maldives and South Asia region, and contribute to the burgeoning field of infrastructural studies with a focus on space/place.

Webinar: Fugitive Archaeological Spaces

Watch it now! Fugitive Archaeological Spaces, the next installment in the monthly series From the Margins to the Mainstream.

Fugitive Archaeological Spaces from Wenner-Gren Foundation on Vimeo.

Over the past year, we have seen renewed organizing amongst Black and Indigenous heritage professionals as well as the emergence of new collectives globally. These efforts have led to new initiatives around capacity building, community engagement, and decolonizing research methodologies. In this panel members of these new and emerging organizations will discuss their genesis, initiatives, as well as challenges and opportunities associated with empowering their communities in archaeology and heritage preservation.


Nathan Acebo, PhD, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Critical Mission Studies, University of California, Merced

Lewis Borck, PhD, Assistant Professor at New Mexico Highlands University and a founding member of the Black Trowel Collective

Patricia Marinho, PhD, Archaeologist, Technical Advisor for Quilombola community, and a member of Rede de Arqueologia Negra

Jeannette Plummer Sires, Curator of Archaeological Assemblages at the British Museum and a founding member of the European Society of Black and Allied Archaeologists

Moderated by Justin Dunnavant, PhD, Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt University and Co-founder/President of the Society of Black Archaeologists

CART captioning provided by Lori Stavropoulos

Sponsored by the Society of Black Archaeologists, Indigenous Archaeology Collective, Archaeological Research Center at UC Santa Cruz, Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and SAPIENS