From the Editor

You will notice that we changed our cover for the March 2020 issue. Previously, the cover featured an archival photograph of Dr. Margaret Mead, who at the time the photograph was taken was the assistant curator of ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History. She was pictured with skulls she brought back with her from her fieldwork in New Guinea. The March issue included a special section on the anthropology of global white supremacy, and the editors of the section selected this photo in order to capture the spirit of some of the critiques in the section, which have to do with the kind of white supremacy anthropology has reproduced, even as its most notable practitioners proclaimed anti-racism. One of the articles in that special section explicitly dealt with Margaret Mead and her conversation with James Baldwin (“A Rap on Race”), which is why we felt the image was both so palpably ironic and representative. Our ethical intention in using the photograph was to indict the racist practice depicted within it, assuming that the image would be read in the context of the issue’s contents. We received a good deal of negative response about using this image on the cover, and were alerted to an essay Chip Colwell published in SAPIENS that outlines the case for never using images of human remains on the cover of a journal. Realizing that every time an article from the March issue is shared, it is accompanied by a thumbnail image of the cover, thereby completely decontextualizing the image, we decided to change the cover on both the Wiley website (and therefore the permanent record of the journal) and on our own.

For more, see this discussion between Yarimar Bonilla and Deborah Thomas.

Share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *