HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » How A Museum's Human Skul...

Mon Apr 19, 2021, 06:34 AM

How A Museum's Human Skull Collection Sparked A Racial Reckoning

Apr 16, 2021,05:50am EDT|6,837 views
Suzanne Rowan Kelleher Forbes Staff

Following years of protests by students and activists, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is finally atoning for a racist sin.

The Penn Museum, as it is commonly known, apologized this week for its “unethical possession” of human remains in the Samuel G. Morton Cranial Collection, some 1,300 human skulls that were used in the 19th century to promote white supremacism. A plan was announced for the repatriation or reburial of more than 50 skulls belonging to former slaves from both Cuba and the United States—some from Philadelphia, where the museum is located.

The collection’s inclusion of slave remains was revealed in 2019 by the Penn & Slavery Project, an ongoing student research investigation into the university’s connection to slavery and scientific racism.

“It is time for these individuals to be returned to their ancestral communities, wherever possible, as a step toward atonement and repair for the racist and colonial practices that were integral to the formation of these collections,” said the museum’s new director, Dr. Christopher Woods, in a statement. “We will also reassess our practices of collecting, stewarding, displaying, and researching human remains.”

More:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/suzannerowankelleher/2021/04/16/penn-museum-samuel-morton-human-skull-collection-black-slaves-repatriation/?sh=414d40197d4c

4 replies, 1290 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply How A Museum's Human Skull Collection Sparked A Racial Reckoning (Original post)
Judi Lynn Apr 19 OP
hlthe2b Apr 19 #1
Solly Mack Apr 19 #2
Collimator Apr 19 #3
NNadir Apr 19 #4

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Apr 19, 2021, 06:53 AM

1. Sounds like several current students have been instrumental in both exposing this and forcing

a reckoning. Kudos!

for the communities repatriating their own.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Apr 19, 2021, 06:53 AM

2. K&R

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Apr 19, 2021, 09:10 AM

3. The Mismeasure of Man,

by Stephen Gould, discussed the Morton Skull Collection and its role in trying to further a pseudo-science basis for white supremacy.

This book was required reading when I studied anthropology more than 20 years ago when my professor was keeper of the skeletal collection at the Penn Museum. Efforts to address reparation of the skulls have been underway since back then.

As someone who studied anthropology because of a confirmed belief in the brotherhood of humankind, I do expect all peoples and communities to be given equal value and respect. I also cannot help but cast a wary eye on the reverence of physical human remains over the cause of furthering human knowledge.

I don't wish to see anyone's ancestors remains mistreated or disrespected, but somewhere in all this concern over how dead bodies are treated, I see a sort of fetishism. The civil rights and daily welfare of living people should be the focus of progressives working on human rights issues.

Will regard for the dead take us back to a point where studying anatomy is seen as disreputable? Perhaps I am being alarmist in stating this concern. Obviously, there will be those who choose to donate their bodies for study and choice is at the heart of the issue addressed by the University.

Still, if only a specific selection of the human population chooses to donate their bodies for study, then knowledge and experience will be grounded in the recognition of those physical types. A broad sample study provides a deeper understanding of anatomical differences and similarities.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Collimator (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 19, 2021, 12:17 PM

4. I consider "The Mismeasure of Man" to be one...

...of the most important and memorable books I ever read.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread