UMMAA Evolving: Change in our Museum
We are a community of faculty, staff, and students committed to creating a cultural and academic space in our Museum and University that allows people to participate and contribute with the full expression of their identities and abilities. We recognize that many of these identities have historically been marginalized and systematically excluded from participating and engaging in anthropology, archaeology, and museums. Within these fields, the goal is to understand and relate to the human condition in all its expressions, but as scholars and humans we have fallen short of this ideal in everyday practice. Researchers in all three disciplines have often viewed individuals and even whole societies as the “other”—subjects of curiosity to be studied and classified. We reject this view, and we celebrate the full spectrum of identities, including race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. Further, we recognize that inequities in these fields continue to this day and that it is our responsibility to deconstruct the systems that allow injustice to persist. To this end, our community has created an action plan to address the systemic failures within these fields.
We welcome those who wish to join us in this work, to learn new ways of engaging with people, and to become better stewards and community partners. We acknowledge the colonial foundations of our teaching, collecting, and scholarship. We strive to hold ourselves accountable and to empower each other to engage in the difficulties that come with addressing these pasts in order to create a more equitable and inclusive future for these disciplines and for all people. You can stay up-to-date with our progress by following the hashtag #UMMAAevolving.
Change at UMMAA
Over the last year, UMMAA faculty, staff, and graduate students have come together to work on outreach, recruitment, and curricula, with the goal of making archaeology and the UMMAA a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse environment. Below is a list of some of the outcomes of our work within the 2020-2021 academic year.
• We hosted a speaker series during Winter 2021. The goal of this series was to give a platform to Black scholars. We hope to continue this series by highlighting the work of BIPOC scholars. In the meantime, you can view recording of the talks that we featured in our inaugural speaking series here.
• We hosted a panel on NAGPRA and social media outreach.
• We created posters for our undergraduate classes. We have been working on
disseminating these posters to other departments, via social media, and to our
current undergraduates in order to increase enrollment in archaeology classes.
• We created a series of videos featuring interviews with individuals who obtained degrees in anthropology or archaeology but work outside of academia. Click here to watch the videos, and stay tuned for more information about this series!
• Several of our graduate students participated in the Department of Anthropology’s
undergraduate-graduate mentor program AUGMENT. If you would like to know more about the program or how to enroll, please click here to learn more about AUGMENT.
• We hosted an anti-racist pedagogy workshop for our faculty, staff, and
• We created a reading group that focuses on anti-racist discourse.
• Our graduate students created an international student group to assist
international graduate students within the Department of Anthropology. To participate in MISSAA, please click here for contact and here for more information.
• We are working on a graduate student orientation for our incoming first-year PhD
students. This orientation will focus on acclimating our incoming first-years.
We are aware that all of our students come from very distinct cultural and
educational backgrounds. Therefore, the focus of this orientation is to not
only welcome our new students, but to provide information on all of the
resources available to them as archaeologists.
• Several of our curators revised their syllabi to feature a diversity in topics and work
by BIPOC scholars.
• We created a plan to enhance our outreach initiatives. Currently, our outreach
committee is investigating pedagogy and resources to develop and implement
• We have increased our social media presence and we have improved our social media
engagement. In the past year, we have gained a few hundred followers on social
media. While this is an improvement, we are still working on reaching wider and
more diverse audiences via social media.