How the toppling of Confederate monuments
could create more Black archaeologists.
By Holly Ober
Ayana Omilade Flewellen, an assistant professor of anthropology. (UCR/Stan Lim)
“The past is messy,” Flewellen said. “And archaeologists, we’re in the dirt.”
Flewellen and co. also address the challenges of bringing more Black college students into archaeology, which, in America, is a discipline usually housed in anthropology departments.
“Many Black students don’t even have access,” Flewellen said. “Historically, Black colleges and universities don’t usually have anthropology majors, and there are financial barriers as well. Field schools necessary to complete training are expensive, and because there are so few Black archaeologists, it’s also hard for Black students to find mentors.”
The authors argue Black archaeology, a specialization shaped by Black feminist theory focusing on Africa and the African diaspora, can help bring more Black people, especially women, into archaeology and work against racism in the discipline.
“An anti-racist archaeology is committed to forging sustainable and nurturing connections among archaeologists of all backgrounds, as well as with communities impacted by archaeological work, community organizers and activists, and those working with smaller historical societies that are also fighting to preserve local histories,” the authors wrote.