Diversity & Inclusion
The Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota has committed itself to ongoing conversation and action to engage issues of diversity, economic and social justice, inclusion, and decolonization in its intellectual life, including its curriculum, the constitution of its student body, and its hiring decisions.
Anthropology is complexly situated in relation to these questions. On the one hand, the discipline’s history is intertwined with eugenics, collaborations with colonial systems, and racialized evolutionary schemes that used forms of human difference to justify dispossession and violence. On the other, anthropological theories and methods have been central in demonstrating the complexity of human diversity, the importance of interrogating uneven power relations, and the possibilities that a comparative perspective offers for imagining a more just and inclusive world.
All of this applies not least to the designation “human” itself, which is not only the outcome of specific cultural, historical, and political processes, but also a designation that has been understood and applied in often radically different ways by many of the people anthropologists write about. A commitment to diversity on anthropology’s part must thus entail a willingness to continuously re-open the question of what it means, or could mean, to be human.
As a department, we insist on carrying the full load of these histories as we inquire into how they have impacted the world around us, including our own discipline. We recognize that this requires more than simply increasing the representation of minoritized people in our student and faculty bodies and in our curriculum. Rather it demands that we ask fundamental questions about the assumptions we carry from our disciplinary history, and about the inequities produced and sustained by the production and dissemination of anthropological knowledge, by economic and labor arrangements both inside and outside the academy, and by the framing of our research questions past and present.
We seek to foster an engaged intellectual community that learns from and contributes to conversations about similarity and difference, hierarchy and inequality across multiple and intersecting socially significant categories such as race, class, ethnicity, culture, gender, religion, sexuality, national origin, and language. We further recognize that these perspectives impact all elements of our work as a university department: teaching, research, service, and community engagement.