Department of Anthropology
My research focuses on the biological and social history of African Americans living in the 19th and 20th century urban US. I began this journey studying the health consequences of poverty and inequality through skeletal and documentary data analysis, with a focus on the W. Montague Cobb skeletal collection.
This unique anatomical collection is made up of DC residents who died in the city between 1930 and 1969. There is extensive cultural information associated with the collection that makes it ideal for examining various biocultural interrelationships.
This research led to a broader interest in past and present studies of the human body as a ‘biological and social product’ within biological anthropology. As such, my current research and writing focuses on the use of African American skeletal remains and living bodies in the development of bioanthropological practices and racial formation.
My publications related to this work include:
2007 “Knowledge from the Margins: W. Montague Cobb´s Pioneering Research in Biocultural Anthropology,” American Anthropologist 109: 186-196.
2010 “Variation in Health and Socioeconomic Status within the W. Montague Cobb Skeletal Collection: Degenerative Joint Disease, Trauma and Cause of Death,” International Journal of Osteoarchaeology DOI: 10.1002/oa.1178. In print 2012: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology vol. 22: 22–44.
2012 “Biohistorical Narratives of Racial Difference in the American Negro: Notes toward a Nuanced History of American Physical Anthropology,” Current Anthropology 53: S196-S209.
2015 “Repositioning the Cobb Human Archive: The Merger of a Skeletal Collection and its Texts” (first author, co-authored with J. Muller). American Journal of Human Biology 27: 41–50. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22650.
I also authored and manage the W. Montague Cobb entry for Oxford Bibliography in Anthropology.
Although we know that race does not exist biologically, it continues to shape our understanding of human biological diversity - not to mention social organization, conflict and the distribution of resources and power. My research (and that of my bioanthropological colleagues) plays an important role in understanding the historical and current implications of biological constructions of race and how they continue to impact scientific practices.
I am committed to using my research and expertise to engage in interdisciplinary and public discussions about race, health disparities and science as a social practice. this includes speaking to elementary, middle and high school students, as well as other public speaking engagements. These efforts include co-chairing the American Anthropological Association's Anthropologists Go Back to School (AGBTS) initiative with Dr. Kamela Heyward Rotimi, and participating The Public Classroom @ Penn Museum: Science and Race: History, Use and Abuse http://dev.interactivemechanics.com./public_classroom/.
I teach Roots of Racism, Human Origins, courses on race, biology and culture, social theory and human biology.
I stand with students of American University in their battle against discrimination, racism, and violence against Black bodies, specifically Black femmes on our campus, throughout this country and this world.
PhD, Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
MAA, Applied Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park
BA, Anthropology, Howard University
- CAS - Anthropology
- Hamilton - 304
- Tuesdays 12:35-2:35 (in Ward Hall lobby if not my office)
Wednesdays 10-11 in WATK 201
by phone/skype/appointment as needed
- Contact Info
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