Tisa Loewen is a PhD student in anthropology at Arizona State University. She is a bioarchaeologist that studies Roman imperialism and the in-between biologies, experiences, and identities of past and modern people. Her service work prioritizes ethical research practices, the dismantling of scientific racism, and diversity and representation in biological anthropology, particularly supporting Black and non-traditional students in academia. Two projects she is currently working with include Anthro Illustrated and Black In BioAnth.
In this article, Tisa discusses the development of the Black Bio Anthropologist Citation List (another powerful resource) and the launch of Black In BioAnth Week!
The Black Bio Anth citation list was started in the Winter of 2018 as I developed a syllabus for a class I was teaching when I realized that I didn’t have many well-publicized Black scholars in my discipline to draw from. I had also recently learned that surveys in biological anthropology had found that only about 10% of the discipline (in the U.S.) is made up of under-represented minorities and major bio-anthropology organization members identifying as Black were about 1% (Antón, Malhi, Fuentes 2018). I knew the numbers were low, but this was shocking and demoralizing. Much of the issue seemed to be a problem with retention of undergraduates and placement of junior faculty in tenure track positions. I knew that building citations would help both of these groups as it could boost the visibility of established authors and also point incoming students in the direction of potential mentors that may identify with their experiences. So that winter I started by trying to find all the works by both international and domestic scholars I knew of, and after my initial effort I had about 25 researchers and 150 citations. Over the years, and especially in the last year, it has grown to almost 100 authors and hundreds of citations.
There were difficulties in the beginning. I struggled with the ethics of deciding who self-identifies as Black and as a biological anthropologist. Not all anthropologists and human biologists want to be associated with our discipline because of its divisive history. Also, I knew I might miss mixed individuals like myself, and that I would fall short in understanding the ways that non-Western Black and African authors may identify.
Nevertheless, it was the narrow restraint of disciplinary definitions that made me reconsider what makes a “citation.” I realized that there were plenty of non-traditional publications and resources that had enormous educational merit which I wanted to highlight. Therefore, this list includes both print and audio/visual media including self-published blogs and videos. Additionally, it includes our founding pioneers that have since passed as well as newer scholars that are outside of the typical Ph.D. academic track. These authors need not be the first author of the publication as well. They all contributed to their effort, and their contribution should not be dismissed.
So far, the reception has been very positive. I am currently working with a colleague, Dr. Denné Reed, to realize this list in a public database form on a website, but that may take time. Meanwhile, the Google Sheet is still updated and will remain so even after a database is more formalized. I continue to take submissions to this list at tnloewen at asu.edu in the form of zotero.sqlite files or using the Google Sheets template on the list. Similarly, if anyone wants their name removed or finds mistakes, they do not have to provide an explanation, just notify me as I do not want to misrepresent people or their work.
Efforts like this list are now a part of a larger movement that has grown out of the Black in X social media campaigns. The first week of February 2021, Black In Bio Anth (on Twitter and Instagram), with whom I am a founding member, is doing a social media “Black In” week. This group seeks to offer mutual support and mentorship to current and aspiring Black biological anthropologists, and to create successful outreach programs that prioritize the recruitment, retention, and persistence of Black scholars. Black Bio Anth was first conceptualized as Black students at NYCEP (New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology) and brought multiple advocacy efforts that were brewing over the summer of 2020 together. It has since grown into a welcoming and supportive community. We welcome involvement through social media channels and are excited about this growing movement, the reach of projects like Cite Black Scholars and the Black Bio Anth citation list, and efforts that support diversity in authorship.
References and Websites:
Anthro Illustrated (2021). [Web]. https://anthroillustrated.com
Antón, S. C., Malhi, R. S., & Fuentes, A. (2018). Race and diversity in US Biological Anthropology: A decade of AAPA initiatives. American journal of physical anthropology, 165, 158-180.
Loewen, T.N., (2020). Black Bio Anth Citation List (Version No. 2) [Google Sheets]. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/13k860kEhXRPGi6UgNxS10Wf9xTkhCk9s72JWzZVJsWI/edit#gid=0 or tinyurl.com/BlackBioanth
BlackinBioAnth (2020). [Web]. https://twitter.com/blackinbioanth?lang=en
Black in NYCEP (2020). [Web]. http://www.nycep.org/black-in-nycep
The first event, co-hosted by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, will be a ‘Kick-off Keynote’ with Dr. Stephanie Poindexter, primatologist and conservation biologist from the University at Buffalo. It will take place on Monday, 2/1 at 7pm EST. Register here: https://tinyurl.com/BiBA-KoK
On Thursday, 2/4 at 4:30pm EST, Black in BioAnth and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists will host the ‘Black Pathways in BioAnth’ panel, featuring Dr. LaShanda Williams (EMD Serano / Merck), Delande Justinvil (American University), Myeashea Alexander (@theRockstarAnthropologist), Dr. Denné Reed (University of Texas at Austin), and Dr. Allison Nesbitt (University of Missouri, School of Medicine). Register here: https://tinyurl.com/BiBA-panel
Finally, on Friday, 2/5 at 8:00pm EST, join Black in BioAnth, the Society of Black Archaeologists, and the Black Science Coalition and Institute, for a relaxed evening of conversation and fellowship during our ‘Future of the Field Friday: After Hours’ happy hour event. Register here: https://tinyurl.com/Future-AfterHours
Please note: this article was written by Tisa Loewen and copied to Cite Black Authors.
Would you like to write for Cite Black Authors? Send us a note on our Contact Us page.