Anthropology Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

The discipline of Anthropology was formed at the end of the nineteenth century to contest the racist ideologies of the day. Anthropologists have always focused on the common humanity of peoples around the world, arguing that differences in social life and worldviews are culturally constructed rather than rooted in biological difference. We firmly dispute the idea of race as a biologically determined set of human sub-populations that share genetic traits, and which are distinguishable from one another and hierarchically ranked. Nevertheless, we recognize that racist beliefs still prevail in most countries, including the United States, and that these beliefs are often invoked by those with privilege in order to demean and discriminate against those whom they judge inferior. Keenly attuned to local-level power dynamics and aware of long-standing histories of colonialism, slavery, and capitalism, anthropologists acknowledge the forms of racial discrimination and institutionalized racism that have characterized societies in the past and that continue today in societies around the world.

Gettysburg College’s Department of Anthropology commits to educating students about and against racism in the following ways:

  • Our classes promote cross cultural understanding with the aim of helping students respect and appreciate diverse cultural perspectives and be more critically aware of their own culturally constructed biases and beliefs.
  • Anthropology students learn about the historical processes of colonization, globalization, and armed conflict that have resulted in contemporary structural inequalities, and examine how, in structurally unequal societies, disempowered members of underrepresented, racialized groups suffer limited access to basic resources and unpolluted land, as well as threats to their bodily wellbeing and basic human rights.
  • Anthropology students are trained to analyze all aspects of power and oppression that individuals have experienced in the past and present, which enables students to understand intersectionality, or the way that one individual may suffer multiple forms of discrimination and marginalization. In particular, students learn how racism often intersects with gender or sexual oppression, socio-economic segregation, indigenous marginalization, and/or religious persecution.
  • We acknowledge that some anthropologists, at some points in the past, have served the interests of colonizers and capitalists by exploiting the racially oppressed peoples with whom they worked and creating racial typologies through the theft of indigenous human remains. Thus, students are exposed to a critical history of anthropology and take from it lessons in how contemporary anthropologists must engage in ethical research, collaborate on equal footing with members of racially oppressed groups, and represent these groups through respectful writing that negates pernicious stereotypes.
  • Anthropology students read contemporary case studies and archaeological work in order to gain a broad understanding of the diverse forms of racism experienced around the world and how colonial exploitation set the stage for contemporary racist ideologies. Through these readings, students engage with topics including police brutality and other forms of institutionalized racism; the coalescence of white supremacy groups and calls for white nationalism; the worldwide rise in xenophobia and violence against immigrants and refugees; the negative stereotyping of and hate-crimes against Muslims; the colonial and neo-colonial exploitation of Native Americans and other indigenous groups around the world; the forms of environmental racism perpetrated by corporations and governments that pollute the land, air, and water of racialized groups; and the ethics of collecting, curating, and interpreting the material history and human remains of indigenous and other stakeholder communities.
  • Anthropologists are keenly attuned to agency, or the self-conscious way that individuals critically reflect on their culturally constructed, power-infused realities in order to formulate personal life paths and independent worldviews. Human agents often initiate collective efforts to critique and resist the forms of racism described above. Engaged, politically aware anthropologists study small-scale resistance, organized activism, and the links between local peoples and global racial justice movements. Students thereby learn about myriad local efforts to mobilize against oppression and promote racial equity.