The standing faculty of the Anthropology Department wish to declare our support for the Africa family in their demand for the return of the remains of the victims of the abhorrent police bombing of the MOVE house in West Philadelphia in 1985 and for a fair and transparent investigation of the events that led to the unconscionable retention and display of remains of their loved ones. This horrific action by the Philadelphia police department took the lives of eleven people, five of whom were children, including Tree Africa (14), Netta Africa (12), Delisha Africa (12), Little Phil Africa (12), and Tomaso Africa (9).
We condemn, in no uncertain terms, the possession and use of these remains in teaching and student work. These egregious and unethical actions were the result of bad decisions on the part of one adjunct faculty member and a former faculty member who left the department in 2001. These actions do not represent us, nor are they aligned with our general practices. As a department we are committed to addressing the legacies of systemic racism, institutionalized violence, and other violations of human rights in our discipline.
We encourage you to seek out additional information and resources about this matter and to that end provide links below to several statements and papers relating to these issues.
- Collective Statement Concerning the Possession and Unethical Use of Remains written by the ABA, SBA, BiBA http://aba.americananthro.org/collective-statement-concerning-the-possession-and-unethical-use-of-remains/
- Society for American Archaeology Statement Concerning the Treatment of Human Remains https://documents.saa.org/container/docs/default-source/doc-careerpractice/saa-human-remains-statement-draft-4-14-2021.pdf?sfvrsn=3565512b_2df?sfvrsn=3565512b_2
- Blakey, M. L. (2020). Archaeology under the blinding light of race. Current Anthropology, 61(S22), S183-S197.
- Kirsty Squires, David Errickson, Nicholas Márquez-Grant (2019) Ethical Approaches to Human Remains: A Global Challenge in Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology, Springer.
- Lans, A. M. (2020). Decolonize this collection: Integrating black feminism and art to re‐examine human skeletal remains in museums. Feminist Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/fea2.12027
- Watkins, R. 2020. An Alter(ed)native Perspective on Historical Bioarchaeology. Historical Archaeology in press, 53(4). (See https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13212 for other important examples)
- Reclaiming the Ancestors: Indigenous and Black Perspectives on Repatriation, Human Rights, and Justice, September 2020. https://vimeo.com/449844367
- Justinvil, D. & Colwell, C. 2021. US museums hold the remains of thousands of Black people. What can be done about it? Available at: https://generocity.org/philly/2021/04/06/us-museums-hold-the-remains-of-thousands-of-black-people-what-can-be-done-about-it/