Curating Gathering Voices

An Exhibition at the American Philosophical Society On April 15th the American Philosophical Society (APS) opened the third in a series of exhibitions on Thomas Jefferson—a member and president of the Society. Gathering Voices: Thomas Jefferson and Native America explores Jefferson’s collection of Native American and Indigenous languages, and its legacy at the APS. Here, […]

The Missing Ethics of Heritage

Ethics codes should play a key role in the education of future professionals.  Indeed, in teaching a capstone course for graduating seniors, I justify our multi-day exploration of ethics in part by referencing the Society for Applied Anthropology’s ethics code, which states in its principle 4 that “Our training should inform students as to their […]

Activating and Deactivating Heritage Symbols

On the Tubman $20 and Other Symbolic Controversies After a long controversy between students and upper-level administration, Yale University decided not to remove the name of John C. Calhoun from their residential community building. Apparently, they only supported efforts to stop using the title “master” to address the faculty members who head these residential communities. […]

Islamic State Ideology and Cultural Cleansing

Unimaginable loss of human life and cultural heritage are an almost daily occurrence in the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq. Looking back to 2011–2012, like many foreign archaeologists conducting long-term research in Syria, I experienced an initial period of denial and disbelief. Many of us struggled to come to grips with the unfathomable turpitude […]

Using Satellite Imagery to Monitor Syria’s Cultural Heritage

The military conflict that now consumes Syria and neighboring parts of Iraq and Turkey, the northern portion of the Fertile Crescent, are home to an extraordinarily rich archaeological heritage, which now faces a host of threats, including conflict-related damage, looting and intentional destruction.  Over the past two years, media attention has focused almost exclusively on […]

Where We Draw the Lines

Weighing Commitments to Community and Heritage The AAA Statement of Ethics asks anthropologists to “do no harm,” an injunction that is deceptively simple. After all, anthropologists can rarely foresee or influence the potential consequences and unintentional impacts of their research. The AAA’s injunction therefore introduces thorny issues pertaining to the long-term effects of data—the maps, […]