Enslaved remains, scientific racism and the work of counter-history

Source image: https://stayhappening.com/e/return-and-repatriate-abolish-the-morton-collection-E2ISTJPW7RT

Ricardo Roque publicou o artigo “Enslaved remains, scientific racism and the work of counter-history” na History of Anthropology Review. O ensaio integra uma série de intervenções de historiadores, estudiosos, activistas, curadores, e investigadores indígenas sobre o problema dos legados do racismo científico nos museus antropológicos e na história da antropologia.

O artigo é publicado em duas partes, Part One – Inscription / Part Two – Recollection) está disponível online, em acesso livre, no sítio da History of Anthropology Review, nos seguintes links:

Ricardo Roque, “Enslaved Remains, Scientific Racism, and the Work of Counter-History (Part One),” History of Anthropology Review 45 (2021): https://histanthro.org/news/observations/enslaved-remains/

Ricardo Roque, “Enslaved Remains, Scientific Racism, and the Work of Counter-History (Part Two),” History of Anthropology Review 45 (2021): https://histanthro.org/news/observations/enslaved-remains-scientific-racism-and-the-work-of-counter-history-part-two/


The recent debate over the relocation and restitution of over 50 human crania of enslaved people in Samuel George Morton’s collection at the Penn Museum prompts a reflection on anthropology’s entanglements with the history of slavery. When the HAR editorial team asked me to offer some thoughts a propos this event, I revisited my research notes in search of archival traces of these complex crossings. This short note is an analytical reflection about one such trace—a letter exchange found in the private papers of another notorious race scholar and skull collector and Morton’s contemporary) British surgeon Joseph Barnard Davis (1801-1881). I ask how enslavement becomes epistemically and politically embedded in collections of human remains. I ask how historiographical work may help us to counter, subvert, heal, and remember the presence and effects of these past processes today.