The African Burial Ground: Lessons for the Morton Crania Collection
Christopher Woods is the Williams Director of the Penn Museum, a position he began April 1 st of this year. Prior to coming to Penn, he was the John A. Wilson Professor of Sumerology at the University of Chicago and Director of the Oriental Institute, one of the world’s leading centers for interdisciplinary research on Near East civilizations.
Dr. Woods served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies from 2009-2020, and has published a wide range of scholarly books and articles, spanning such areas as Sumerian language and writing, the origin and development of writing and writing systems, and early Mesopotamian history, literature, religion, and state formation.
His work has been supported by grants from the U.S. Department of State, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among many others. After earning a Ph.D. in Assyriology from Harvard University and a B.S. in Physics from Yale University, he was appointed to the Harvard Society of Fellows before joining the University of Chicago in 2002.
Michael Blakey is National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Anthropology, Africana Studies, and American Studies and Founding Director of the Institute for Historical Biology at the College of William & Mary.
Dr. Blakey was a Key Advisor of the award-winning Race: Are We So Different exhibition of the American Anthropological Association, where he held several offices including the president of the Association of Black Anthropologists (1987- 1989) and member of the editorial board of American Anthropologist (2012-2016). Blakey represented the United States on the Council of the 4th World Archaeological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa (1999).
He is a member of the Scholarly Advisory Committee of the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution, where he previously held the position of Research Associate in Physical Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History (1985-1994).
He was Scientific Director of the New York African Burial Ground Project (1992-2009), the most extensive bioarchaeological project in the United States. The Manhattan site became a U.S. National Monument in 2007.
Dr. Rachel Watkins is a biocultural anthropologist with an emphasis on African American biohistory and social history, bioanthropological research practices and histories of (US) American biological anthropology.
Initially trained in skeletal biology, her work focused on looking at relationships between health, disease, and social location in people whose remains are in the W. Montague Cobb anatomical collection and interred at the New York African Burial Ground.
Current projects continue to draw on intellectual and political work tied to Cobb and his laboratory from 1932 to the present as sites for understanding science as a social practice through a Black feminist lens.
Carlina de la Cova
Dr. Carlina de la Cova is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of South Carolina. De La Cova’s research explores the biological and skeletal impact of social marginalization, incorporating methods from biological anthropology, history, sociology, cultural anthropology, public health, and medicine, and focusing on the relationship between race, culture, socioeconomic status, environment, migration, social marginalization and health.
Her current projects focus on the biological impact of the Great Migration, institutionalization, and social marginalization, as well as the social origins of anatomical collections and the social stigma of dissection.
Department of Anthropology
William and Mary