Public Perception of the Ethics of Physical Anthropology

Author(s): Nicole Burt

Year: 2018


The history of physical anthropology contains figures and movements that improperly used science to hurt or diminish other groups or was utilized by such movements after publication. This haunted past can manifest as a bumpy future for modern practitioners working under a shadow of racial typology, eugenics, and other horrific applications of their science. Anthropologists continue to be haunted where our peers in anatomy or biology are not, due in part, to our theoretical approach as a biocultural science, which used both culture and biology as a weapon. Scholars have begun to confront the past in student training and working with research participants (Weiss, 2006; Marks, 2017). In this talk, I approach the subject as a museum curator, who is engaging with the public about research and the science of physical anthropology. The encounters range from very supportive to hostile. The public perception of the ethics of the field can be a huge hurdle in engaging and educating. Physical anthropologist need to communicate the modern ethics of the field effectively while remembering and acknowledging that the history of the field cannot and should not be ignored. This presentation focuses on what has and has not worked for public engagement.

Cite this Record

Public Perception of the Ethics of Physical Anthropology. Nicole Burt. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444661)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 18857