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Anthropology as White Public Space?



ABSTRACT  How far has anthropology come in becoming racially inclusive? In this article, we analyze an online survey of anthropology graduate students and faculty of color undertaken by the AAA Commission on Race and Racism in Anthropology. Despite some progress, institutional and attitudinal barriers remain. We use the concept of “white public space” to analyze these barriers: departmental labor is divided in ways that assign to faculty and graduate students of color responsibilities that have lower status and rewards than those of their white counterparts. Colorblind racial explanatory practices—discourses that explain away racially unequal institutional practices as being “not about race”—are common. We argue that such practices make many anthropology departments feel like white-owned social and intellectual spaces. We conclude by suggesting steps with which anthropology departments can create more inclusive social spaces that are owned equally by scholars of color and their white peers.

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