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This year, at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, I will be participating in a session titled Teaching Race and Ethnicity. The session was organized by Amy Carattini and Maria Sprehn of Montgomery College. The session will involve five presentations from academics and practitioners.

Teaching Race and Ethnicity Session Abstract

For over a century, anthropologists have examined the concepts of race and ethnicity, however, an understanding of how these categories are socially and culturally constructed is not always visible in the public purview or at institutional levels. In this arena, anthropology needs more visibility. In order to continue the educational goals of the RACE Project, this panel explores possibilities and new methods for teaching students and the general public about anthropological knowledge on race and ethnicity. The end goal is to impact personal and public understandings so that the anthropological perspective is applied to policy at various levels and to community building.

Using Anthropological Methods to Impact College Student Understandings of Race & Ethnicity

Maria Sprehn & Amy Carattini, Montgomery College

This presentation explores community-college student understandings of race and ethnicity as they practiced various anthropological methods within their social circles. The methods included: interviewing, digital photography, collecting and analyzing data, producing physical and virtual exhibits, designing exhibit-viewer feedback surveys, and presenting findings. By the end of the course, students demonstrated a more complex narrative about people in their communities–a narrative that diverted from anachronous knowledge of race and ethnicity as biological realities toward one that reflected a more accurate and current understanding of race and ethnicity as social and cultural constructions.

Shifting perspectives: Materiality and the deconstruction of race and ethnicity in world history curriculum.

Shannon Peck-Bartle, University of South Florida

World history curriculum in secondary education traditionally portrays race and ethnicity as static and binary. This severely limits student understanding of complex ethnic and racial identities and relationships in world history and their own community. Through the incorporation of material culture and materiality theory, students in an Advanced Placement World History course explore ways in which artifacts can deconstruct static and binary understandings of ethnicity and race. Initial student responses and reflections on the infusion of materiality and material culture with traditional curricular representations of ethnicity will be presented and discussed.

Writing books with students: The inclusive praxis of open access publishing of student authored ethnographic narrative

Katie Nelson, Ph.D. Inver Hills Community College

This presentation will focus on a particular pedagogical practice I have begun in which students conduct ethnographic research, write a life history interview and then publish it as an Open Access Resource (OER). Rather than treat these as “throw away assignments”, students are able to preserve their work and make it available to future students. The benefits are multiple: Students become the knowledge makers, breaking up traditional academic authority. Students learn ethnographic methods, including ethical principles, while gaining an appreciation for how social constructs of race, ethnicity, gender and national identity change throughout the course of a person’s life. Students also learn about open access publishing and become part of a movement to disrupt traditional for-profit publishing which perpetuates inequality.

Another Side of American History: Teaching Race in a Public Museum

Lisa Armstrong, University of South Florida

Black communities have been inexhaustible cultural contributors yet the underrepresentation of Black heritage in scholarship undermines efforts to inclusively teach race in public educational settings. Bias in producing racial narratives limits teachable resources to popular court cases, socially accepted themes and people. Extreme cultural loss is inevitable by excluding many unfamiliar yet, valuable achievements and particularities of Black people. This study demonstrates how a museum panel on the education of Black people in Sulphur Springs-Spring Hill Community in Florida provides a theoretical and ethnographic framework for diversifying race narratives in a way useful for teaching race in public spaces.

Consumer Genetics and Our Evolving Understanding of Race & Ethnicity

Matt Artz, Azimuth Labs

Given the rise of low-cost genetic testing, we are now able to truly see at an individual level the effects of movements such as colonialism and its predecessors. No longer are we reliant on malleable histories of the victors to call attention to global patterns of conquest, but instead, we can see how the ethnic makeup of individuals is, in fact, a diverse mixture that frequently extends beyond the modern nationalities that families pass down as part of their oral heritage. As such, we ask, does direct-to-consumer genetic (DTCG) testing have the ability to reshape notions of race & ethnicity positively, and if so, are there any ethical implications of using consumer genetic test results for educational purposes?

My Other Presentation at SfAA 2020

I will also be leading a session titled Less Common Applications of Business Anthropology. Please come by and support us!