Announcing the 2022 Global Initiatives Grant Approves

Though this post is much belated we are nonetheless thrilled to announce the 2022 approves for the Global Initiatives Grant!

In 2022 The Global Initiatives Grant prioritized projects aimed at building capacity in the ethical treatment of human remains. The winners were:

Blakey, Michael (William and Mary, College of) “Global Listening Visits of the Commission for the Ethical Treatment of Human Remains (TCETHR), American Anthropological Association”

The AAA has tasked the Commission on the Ethical Treatment of Human Remains (TCETHR) with recommending ethical guidelines and practices advancing respectful care for graves, grave goods, osteological remains, and genetic material associated with deceased African Americans and Native Americans, focusing on research collections at museums and academic institutions. This project covers travel to Australia, Japan, and South Africa to participate in the first three of nine global “Listening Tours.” Commission members will collaborate with colleagues and representatives of descendant communities in different parts of the world to exchange observations and concerns about best practices.

Hosek, Lauren (Colorado, Boulder, U. of) “Bones in the Ivory Tower: Ethics and Human Remains in Universities”

This project addresses the ethics of working with human remains in university teaching and research collections in North America. It is based on a partnership between two bioarchaeologists and features a strong collaboration with descendant communities.  Focusing on the long-term care and archiving of bodies, the partners will explore best practices in pedagogy and curation relating to the use of teaching and research collections in academic settings. They will develop syllabi for courses on the ethical treatment of human remains and training modules to teach students how to handle and learn from collections. Especially compelling is the Ancestor room that they are working with descendent communities to create. The aim Is to create a “culturally-responsive repository” with space for descendants to visit and care for Ancestors.

Lans, Aja (Harvard U.) “Identifying the Skeletal Remains of Enslaved Individuals in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology”

Focused on the skeletal remains of enslaved individuals housed in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, this project will serve as a model for engaging descendant communities in the ethical care and treatment of ancestral remains in museum collections.  Conducting provenance and genealogical research, which identifies age and place of origin, is a critical in restoring the personhood of individuals and identifying living descendant communities and stakeholders who can be consulted on the best way to lay them to rest. Possible outcomes include an exhibition and the development of guiding principles and best practices.

Makovicky, Nicolette (Oxford, U. of) “Tax, Society, and People: Using Anthropology in Tax Education”

Building on strong relationships with stakeholders ranging from citizen’s groups to policy makers, this project involves the co-production of educational materials geared toward secondary students in Kenya, Nigeria, and the U.K. The goal is to raise awareness of the importance of taxation and encourage compliance through taxpayer education. The project offers an example of how anthropologists can put their knowledge to work through new forms of scholarly communication and new kinds of collaborations.

Manthi, Fredrick (Independent Scholar) “Teaching prehistory and human evolution in marginalized communities and schools in Kenya”

Few Kenyan researchers have taken part in studies on human origins in Kenya. But these fossils are the remains of Kenyan people’s ancestors, not just the ancestors of the European and North American scholars who have dominated this research. This project provides teachers in remote parts of Kenya with the training they need to teach prehistory and human evolution to Kenyan youth. Outreach activities will Increase the number of students pursuing careers in science and prehistory and teach them the importance of conserving Kenya’s natural and cultural heritage. Most importantly, it will help defuse conflicts between science and religion and help youth transcend the divisions of tribe and ethnicity that have been the focus of violence in the recent past.

Simmons, Tal (Virginia Commonwealth U) “The East Marshall Street Well Project: K-12 Science curriculum on ethical practice with Ancestral Human Remains of African Descent”

The ongoing East Marshall Street Well Project (EMSWP) has worked to restore dignity to individuals discovered in an anatomy pit during the construction of Virginia Commonwealth University’s medical school in 1994. Earlier research has reconstructed the history of the collection and used DNA and stable isotope analysis to restore the personhood of the individuals who became part of it.  This project raises awareness of the project and establishes a pipeline for K-12 students in the Richmond school district to learn about forensic science and the ethical treatment of human remains.

Thomas, Jayne-Leigh (Indiana U., Bloomington) “Intensive NAGPRA Summer Training and Education Program (INSTEP)”

Even as the move towards similar legislation for Black communities gains momentum, critics have pointed to shortcomings in the implementation of NAGPRA.  This project is an attempt to address these deficiencies. This collaborative partnership involves NAGPRA experts based at universities in the Midwest where historic circumstances have left the region without federally-recognized tribal nations. It involves a pilot project to bring together scholars, anthropology students, NAGPRA practitioners, and representatives from tribal nations. The aim is to work closely with tribal scholars and stakeholders to build mutual trust during the weeklong seminar, which will provide instruction in respectful care and strategies for fulfilling ethical obligations surrounding research, teaching, and the curation and repatriation of Ancestral remains.

Yáñez, Bernardo (National Inst. of Anthropology & History) “Bioanthropological Latin American Network”

By building a network of Latin American bioarchaeologists, paleoanthropologists, and biological anthropologists, this project will contribute to the development of a framework for ethical work with ancient human remains from the region. Compared to their colleagues based in the Global North, researchers in the Global South lack access to funding, training opportunities, and state-of-the art computational tools and resources. The largely extractive relationships that have resulted from this disparity have made ethical relations with descendant communities hard to sustain. The project seeks to address these disparities and boost the participation of local researchers and stakeholders in the research process by forming a collaborative, inclusive, and diverse network comprised of researchers with different expertise in ancient DNA research. This grant will support an initial 3-day meeting of the Bioanthropological Latin American Network. Participants will gather at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City to discuss capacity building in aDNA research, best practices and ethical guidelines for research and the management and protection of biocultural heritage.