A series of recent articles in the Harvard Crimson reported serious allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by several faculty members affiliated with this department. The behavior described in the allegations is abhorrent. The fact that it has not been adequately addressed at a departmental level until now points to serious failings in departmental structure, communication, and climate, in the wholly inadequate response to sexual violence across the university, and in the way the administration communicates with departments. The articles also drew attention to long-standing problems of bias and inequality in the department that require urgent attention, problems that contribute to a climate in which abusive behaviors can thrive. We as a faculty feel deeply the harm that has been caused and are committed to doing everything we can to repair that harm to the extent possible, and to ensure that it does not happen again. We stand by all those who have been affected by this and are humbled and inspired by their courage in speaking out.

 

Our immediate focus is on what we can do internally to rebuild trust and empower the most vulnerable members of our community. We have convened a standing committee to investigate existing departmental structures and propose recommendations for dismantling those that have contributed to an environment in which abuses continue to manifest and go undetected. We understand that this is only a first step on a long path, and we are committed to doing what it takes to repair our relationships and foster a more supportive, safe, and equitable department culture. 

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of human diversity in the distant past and the present and teaches us to recognize the remarkable array of circumstances in which human beings live their lives and make meaning from them. 

But anthropology is more than just a catalog of diversity. There is an oft-cited phrase that anthropology “makes the familiar strange and the strange familiar.” What does this mean? At the very least, it means stepping back and seeing ourselves the way others might see us – a shift in perspective that is foundational to human empathy and humility.

Anthropology also invites deeper analysis of behaviors that we might think we fully understand but that have histories and complexities that only reveal themselves to careful investigation. We seek to understand the full context of people's actions and all that they impact. This is why we do long term field research in local languages, and excavate artifacts in their complicated contexts -- to understand social life in all its richness and depth..... Read more.