Pressures in and outside the academy are forcing museums to grapple ever more deeply with the legacies of scientific racism embedded and embodied in their anthropological collections. The removal of the nineteenth century Samuel George Morton collection of hundreds of human skulls from display in a classroom at the University of Pennsylvania in summer 2020, following student protest, is a provocative metaphor for these changes. In this “Participant Observations” series, the History of Anthropology Review has invited scholars to respond to the shifting fate of this and other physical anthropology collections, opening critical discussion of other anti-racist reckonings and aspects of decolonization in museums, ethical concerns about human remains collections, and the intertwined histories of racial science, medicine, and anthropology.

Read the series.

Margaret M. Bruchac: contributions / website / / University of Pennsylvania
Francisco Diaz: contributions / website /
VanJessica Gladney: contributions / website / / VanJessica Gladney has been a member of the Penn and Slavery Project at the University of Pennsylvania since its conception in 2017. As an undergraduate, she conducted research about Penn’s connections to slavery on its original and current campuses. Her research resulted in the removal of the George Whitefield statue from the campus. After graduation, she served as the project’s Public History Fellow, presenting information about the project throughout the greater Philadelphia area and building the project’s website. As of 2019, she is a Ph.D. student in History at the University of Pennsylvania.
CD Green: contributions /
Ann Kakaliouras: contributions / website /
Stephanie Mach: contributions / website /
Jonathan Marks: contributions / website / / University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Paul Wolff Mitchell: contributions / website /
Samuel J. Redman: contributions / website /
Ricardo Roque: contributions / / Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto de Ciências Sociais
Deborah Thomas: contributions / website / / R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology; Director, Center for Experimental Ethnography, University of Pennsylvania
Courtney Thompson: contributions / website /
Paul Turnbull: contributions / website /
Christopher D.E. Willoughby: contributions / website /