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Monday, March 8, 2021

Anthropology department releases statement on faculty commitment to decolonization

By Hailee Wickersham

Western’s anthropology department put up a number of posters in throughout Arntzen Hall stating their commitment to decolonizing and diversifying the department’s curriculum, classroom conduct and research to support students of marginalized communities.

The fliers, titled “Faculty Perspectives on Diversity in Anthropology,” briefly outlined a “recent use of harmful, racist language in a class,” referencing instructor Paul James’ use of a racial slur in “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” in October of 2017.

Anthropology faculty are working on engaging and promoting diversity and inclusion in their classrooms, department chair Todd Koetjstated in an email.

“Right now, for example, the professors who teach intro to cultural anthropology are creating a modernized and more fully decolonized outline of that curriculum for implementation in the fall,” Koetje said.

Koetje said other classes in the department have been taking steps to increase diversity in their classrooms.

“Many of the individual instructors are working in the same direction,” Koetje said.

The posters outlined the perspectives and practices of instruction in the anthropology department as being “grounded in respect for all people of all cultures” and their ideas. The statement includes that classes and research are also conducted in a way that strives to acknowledge and overcome “roles of historically oppressive paradigms” in the anthropology discipline.

The statement was published online as well under “Faculty Perspectives on Diversity in Anthropology,” stating how the department recognizes its responsibility to foster and support students and members of the community who feel threatened, unheard or marginalized.

Below their statement, department faculty shared how they practice their teaching and research of anthropology while being mindful of their personal culture, gender, and race.

The department ended their statement by encouraging actions such as forums, workshops, curriculum and a variety of other opportunities for expression.



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