Department of Anthropology

Diversity Symposium at AAPA Meetings

Thu, April 27, 2017
Diversity Symposium at AAPA Meetings
Photo Credit: Rick Smith

Last week at the annual meetings for the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), Associate Professor Deborah Bolnick and graduate student Rick Smith organized a symposium on diversity: "Beyond Visibility: How Academic Diversity is Transforming Scientific Knowledge." Presenters included Bolnick and Smith, as well as incoming UT graduate student Samantha Archer, and former UT professor Kimberly TallBear.

Abstract: In recent years the field of biological anthropology and the AAPA have taken center stage in national debates concerning sexual harassment, the need for greater integrity and safety in the field and workplace, and sex and gender equality in the sciences. The AAPA has also seen unprecedented efforts to increase diversity in the discipline, including the Committee on Diversity’s Undergraduate Symposium, the Increasing Diversity in Evolutionary Anthropological Sciences (IDEAS) workshop, and the formation of the GAYAPA interest group, among others. These developments have been important for increasing the inclusion of underrepresented groups in science and are crucial to broadening access and increasing justice within biological anthropology. However, while strides have been made towards improving visibility for underrepresented groups and their concerns in the field, less consideration has been given to the intellectual contributions that diversification brings. Such diversity includes new kinds of questions and theoretical perspectives, new approaches to research design and ethics, new insights and interpretations of data — leading to the production of new knowledge within biological anthropology and the sciences more generally. In this symposium we draw on the voices and insights of scholars from within biological anthropology and beyond to highlight how scientists from diverse backgrounds are producing new kinds of knowledge about humans and non-humans, the connections between bodies, biology, and culture, and the politics and practice of science. We show that diversity is not just a question of visibility and representation; it is also about making a new and vital science together. This session will explore how our collective efforts to change “who we are” also involves expanding and  reconstituting “what we know”.

The session got a lot of attention at the conference, and on social media:https://storify.com/rickwasmith/beyond-visibility-how-academic-diversity-is-transf

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