Closing Discussion

Closing Discussion


Deborah A. Thomas

Deborah A. Thomas is the R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also core faculty in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, holds a secondary appointment with the Graduate School of Education, and is a member of the graduate groups in English, Africana Studies, Comparative Literature, and the School of Social Policy and Practice.   

Thomas is the author of ​Modern Blackness:  Nationalism, Globalization and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica (2004)Exceptional Violence:  Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica (2011), and Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, and Repair (2019),  and co-editor of the volume Globalization and Race:  Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness(2006). She also co-produced and co-directed the experimental documentary Four Days in May, co-curated the Bearing Witness Exhibit and co-directed the documentary Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens. Prior to her life as an academic, she was a professional dancer with the New York-based Urban Bush Women.  

Rachel Watkins

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.

Laura Van Broekhoven

Dr. Laura Van Broekhoven is the Director of Pitt Rivers Museum. She holds a Professorial Fellowship at Linacre College, and is associated with the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at Oxford. Previously she led the curatorial department of the National Museum of World Cultures (Amsterdam, Leiden and Berg en Dal) and was a lecturer in archaeology, museum studies and indigenous heritage at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University. She currently serves on numerous advisory boards and panels, is a member of the Women Leaders in Museums Network (WLMN) and sits on the European Ethnographic Museum Directors Group. She was a participant in the Getty’s Museum Leadership Institute, co-chair of the Oxford and Colonialism Network, and a founding member of Wayeb.  

Her current research interests include repatriation and redress, with a focus on the importance of collaboration, inclusivity and reflexive inquiry. Her regional academic research has focused on collaborative collection research with Amazonian (Surinam and Brazil) indigenous peoples, Yucatán (Maya) oral history, Mixtec indigenous market systems, and Nicaraguan indigenous resistance in colonial times.

Jenny Davis

Image of caucasian woman with short black hair in black framed glasses on white background

Jenny L. Davis is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and an Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she is the director of the American Indian Studies Program.

After earning undergraduate degrees from Oklahoma State University, she obtained a MA and PhD in Linguistics University of Colorado, Boulder. Before coming to UIUC, she was a Henry Roe Cloud Fellow in American Indian Studies at Yale University, and a Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellow in Linguistics at the University of Kentucky.

She is the 2019-2023 Chancellor’s Fellow of Indigenous Research & Ethics. In this role, she is working to develop campus initiatives, including a campus-wide NAGPRA office, to ensure that the University is knowledgeable about and in compliance with U.S. and tribal government policies and protocols through collaborating with faculty, the NAGPRA Officer, campus and tribal leaders, and advising the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors on issues involving ethical research of Indigenous people, histories, and cultures. She also serves as the co-chair of the campus NAGPRA Advisory Committee. Her research focuses on contemporary Indigenous language revitalization; Indigenous gender and sexuality; and collaborative methods, ethics, and repatriation in Indigenous research. 

Her research has been published in the Annual Review of AnthropologyAmerican AnthropologistGender & LanguageLanguage & Communication, and the Review of International American Studies (RIAS), among others.

She is the recipient of two book prizes: the 2019 Beatrice Medicine Award from the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures for Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance (University of Arizona Press, 2018) and the 2014 Ruth Benedict Book Prize from the Association for Queer Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association for her co-edited volume Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Her poetry manuscript, Trickster Academy, is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press Sun Tracks Series, and her creative work has most recently been published in TransmotionAnomalySanta Ana River ReviewBroadsidedNorth Dakota QuarterlyYellow Medicine ReviewAs/UsRaven Chronicles; and Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance and exhibited at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

Monique Scott

Monique Scott, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the History of Art Department at Bryn Mawr College and is the Director of Museum Studies at the College. Her work centers on how early museums and anthropology produced persistent visual codes for promoting racial hierarchies and denigrating people of African descent. After receiving her PhD in Physical Anthropology from Yale University in 2004, she worked for more than ten years as head of cultural education at the American Museum of Natural History. Scott’s early work, the basis for her 2007 book Rethinking Evolution in the Museum: Envisioning African Origins, considers representations of Africa in natural history museums. She argues that museum visitors often interpret African origins as linear, color-coded narratives of progress from bestial African prehistory to a civilized, European present, and that the sources of these teleological assumptions derive both from exhibition media and the racial folklore circulating outside the museum.

Scott’s recent research focuses on the collection and representation of African art and artifacts in various Philadelphia museums, particularly the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Her archival research into the history of African collections aims to shed light on how the image of Blackness was constructed and manipulated, and how the residues of those Western imaginings still reside in museums and popular culture today. Scott was also on the curatorial team responsible for the renovation of the Penn Museum African galleries, and in 2019, Scott co-curated the temporary exhibition at the Penn Institute of Contemporary Art “Colored People Time: Quotidian Pasts.” She is also a Consulting Scholar for the Africa Section at the Penn Museum, a Research Associate in Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History and is on the African-American Collections Committee at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.