Race, Racism, & Protesting Anthropology

In October 2015, Sallie Han and I put out our third co-edited issue of Open Anthropology, “Race, Racism, and Protesting Anthropology.” The articles in that issue have again been made free to read from July-August 2020 as part of the American Anthropological association page on Confronting Anti-BIPOC Racism. Please check it out and download the articles while you can! Also take a look at the April 2020 “Pandemic Perspectives” issue, guest co-edited by Michael C. Ennis-McMillan and Kristin Hedges. Those articles will be free-to-read until April 2021.

Our original purpose for the “Race, Racism, and Protesting Anthropology” issue was to make free-to-read some of the anthropological articles discussed in Leith Mullings 2013 American Anthropological Association presidential address, which was published in American Anthropologist as Anthropology Matters.

At the time, on what was then called the Savage Minds blog, Alex Golub had provided a helpful discussion of that address and related material in Sources on St. Clair Drake. Similarly, we had hoped to open some of the issues discussed by Karen Brodkin in her interview with Ryan Anderson, Anthropology: It’s still white public space (part 1) and (part 2).

Tracing these sources meant revisiting Leith Mullings’s 2005 Annual Review of Anthropology article Interrogating Racism: Toward an Antiracist Anthropology, which was discussed in Ryan Anderson’s Race, racism, anthropology #1: Mullings on “Interrogating Racism”. As Mullings repeatedly noted, and Anderson also highlighted, “although anthropologists have written extensively about race, anthropological contributions to the study of racism have been surprisingly modest” (2005, 669).

That “surprisingly modest” contribution became even more modest when we had to select articles within the mandate of Open Anthropology: to draw on the AAA/Wiley-Blackwell archives in order to open articles for a limited free-to-read time period. I reproduce below the larger bibliography of possibilities that caught my attention. Please note that this bibliography dates from 2015 and is limited to the AAA/Wiley-Blackwell archives.

In the acknowledgements for “Race, Racism, and Protesting Anthropology,” I cited a long dialogue with “Discuss White Privilege” who now has a section on this blog.

Although much has changed since October 2015, I think the first paragraph of the Editors’ Note still rings true (and thanks to Chelsea Horton for updating the links):

Race has been central to the emergence and development of anthropology in the United States. Anthropologists have used a critique of racialized biological determinism–by either emphasizing cultural explanations or attempting to deconstruct the very notion of a biological basis for racial classifications–as a means to confront the structured racism of American society. In its focus on muting race and racialized explanations, U.S. anthropology has historically paid less attention to racism. Racism was viewed as primarily an illusion about race, overlooking that structured racism itself gives importance to race. While anthropology has therefore often been used to protest structured racism, its institutional position as an anti-race science has often also insulated it from a necessary self-critique of the discipline’s own silences, exclusions, and practices around race.

And for a follow-up to that dynamic, see Starbucks Enlightenment.

I also find helpful that the final article in the issue, Heath Pearson’s “The Prickly Skin of White Supremacy: Race in the ‘Real America’” takes us to the idea of hope: “John Jackson’s claim [is] that hope is one of anthropology’s most insightful and powerful rubrics ‘for reimagining possibility.’ Not blind hope. Hope as that which binds together ‘social change, progress, and even revolution’” (56; see On Ethnographic Sincerity). We are currently working on the next issue of Open Anthropology around the idea of anthropological hope. Coming soon!


Agbe-Davies, Anna S. Review of Race and Practice in Archaeological Interpretation by Charles E. Orser, Jr, Transforming Anthropology (2009).

Akom, A. A. Black Metropolis and Mental Life: Beyond the “Burden of ‘Acting White’” Toward a Third Wave of Critical Racial Studies, Anthropology & Education Quarterly (2008).

Aparicio, Ana. Contesting Race and Power: Second-Generation Dominican Youth in the New Gotham, City & Society (2007).

Baber, Willie L. A Tribute to St. Clair Drake: Activist and Scholar, Transforming Anthropology (1990).

Baker, Lee D. Review of African-American Pioneers in Anthropology. Ira E. Harrison and Faye V. Harrison, eds., American Anthropologist (2000).

Bolles, Lynn. Telling the Story Straight: Black Feminist Intellectual Thought in Anthropology, Transforming Anthropology (2013).

Bond, George Clement. A Social Portrait of John Gibbs St. Clair Drake: An American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist (1988).

Bonilla, Yarimar and Jonathan Rosa. #Ferguson: Digital protest, hashtag ethnography, and the racial politics of social media in the United States, American Ethnologist (2015).

Brodkin, Karen, Sandra Morgen and Janis Hutchinson. Anthropology as White Public Space?, American Anthropologist (2011).

Byrd, Samuel. “The collective circle”: Latino immigrant musicians and politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, American Ethnologist (2014).

Cammarota, Julio. The Generational Battle for Curriculum: Figuring Race and Culture on the Border, Transforming Anthropology (2009).

Carter, Rebecca Louise. Valued Lives in Violent Places: Black Urban Placemaking at a Civil Rights Memorial in New Orleans, City & Society (2014).

Daniels, Timothy P. From Margin to Center, Anthropology’s Pioneers: Ruminations on Du Bois, Davis, and Drake, Transforming Anthropology (2000).

Dominguez, Virginia R. Comfort Zones and Their Dangers: Who Are We? Qui Sommes-Nous?, American Anthropologist (2012).

Dominguez, Virginia R. For a Politics of Love and Rescue, Cultural Anthropology (2000).

Dominguez, Virginia R. Saying and Not Saying R Words. Review of Race in the 21st Century: Ethnographic Approaches and What Can You Say? America’s National Conversation on Race by John Hartigan Jr., Transforming Anthropology (2013).

Drake, St. Clair. Further Reflections on Anthropology and the Black Experience, Transforming Anthropology (1990).

Drake, St. Clair. Reflections on Anthropology and the Black Experience, Anthropology & Education Quarterly (1978).

Fabricant, Nicole and Nancy Postero. Contested Bodies, Contested States: Performance, Emotions, and New Forms of Regional Governance in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (2013).

Gravlee, Clarence C. and Elizabeth Sweet. Race, Ethnicity, and Racism in Medical Anthropology, 1977–2002, Medical Anthropology Quarterly (2008).

Hartigan, John. Translating “Race” and “Raza” between the United States and Mexico, North American Dialogue (2013).

Hazard, Anthony Q. A Racialized Deconstruction? Ashley Montagu and the 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race, Transforming Anthropology (2011).

Hill, Jane H. Flourishing African American Vernacular English and Endangered Indigenous Languages: A Common Thread, Transforming Anthropology (2010).

Hunt, Linda M., Nicole D. Truesdell and Meta J. Kreiner. Genes, Race, and Culture in Clinical Care: Racial Profiling in the Management of Chronic Illness, Medical Anthropology Quarterly (2013).

Juris, Jeffrey S. Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social media, public space, and emerging logics of aggregation, American Ethnologist (2012).

Lieberman, Leonard and Rodney C. Kirk. What Should We Teach about the Concept of Race?, Anthropology & Education Quarterly (2004).

Malsbary, Christine. “Will This Hell Never End?”: Substantiating and Resisting Race-Language Policies in a Multilingual High School, Anthropology & Education Quarterly (2014).

Mullings, Leith. Anthropology Matters, American Anthropologist (2015).

Ninivaggi, Cynthia. Whites Teaching Whites About Race: Racial Identity Theory and White Defensiveness in the Classroom, Teaching Anthropology: Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges Notes (2001).

Orser Jr., Charles E. The Challenge of Race to American Historical Archaeology, American Anthropologist (1998).

Pagano, A. Everyday narratives on race and health in Brazil, Medical Anthropology Quarterly (2014).

Page, Helán and R. Brooke Thomas. White Public Space and the Construction of White Privilege in U.S. Health Care: Fresh Concepts and a New Model of Analysis, Medical Anthropology Quarterly (1994).

Perry, Marc D. Who Dat?: Race and Its Conspicuous Consumption in Post-Katrina New Orleans, City & Society (2015).

Pearson, Heath. The Prickly Skin of White Supremacy: Race in the “Real America”, Transforming Anthropology (2015).

Roth-Gordon, Jennifer. Discipline and Disorder in the Whiteness of Mock Spanish, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology (2011).

Shanklin, Eugenia. The Profession of the Color Blind: Sociocultural Anthropology and Racism in the 21st Century, American Anthropologist (1999).

Sheriff, Robin E. Embracing Race: Deconstructing Mestiçagem in Rio de Janeiro, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (2003).

Sheriff, Robin E. Exposing Silence as Cultural Censorship: A Brazilian Case, American Anthropologist (2000).

Smith, Christen A. Blackness, Citizenship, and the Transnational Vertigo of Violence in the Americas, American Anthropologist (2015).

Ulysse, Gina. Conquering Duppies in Kingston: Miss Tiny and Me, Fieldwork Conflicts, and Being Loved and Rescued, Anthropology and Humanism (2002).

Visweswaran, Kamala. Race and the Culture of Anthropology, American Anthropologist (1998).

Zilberg, Alana. A Troubled Corner: The ruined and rebuilt environment of a Central American barrio in post-Rodney-King-riot Los Angeles, City & Society (2002).


To cite: Antrosio, Jason. 2015. “Race, Racism, and Protesting Anthropology.” Living Anthropologically website, https://www.livinganthropologically.com/race-racism-protesting/. Originally posted 17 September 2015. Revised 5 March 2018.

Note that this post originally appeared on the Anthropology Report website as http://anthropologyreport.com/articles-aaa-race-and-racism/, and was later transferred to Living Anthropologically as https://www.livinganthropologically.com/anthropology-blogs-2017/race-racism/


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