The Blinding Light of Race in Science and Society

Dr. Michael L. Blakey

National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Anthropology, Africana Studies, and American Studies
Director of the Institute for Historical Biology
College of William & Mary

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, the Center for African & African American Studies, the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies, the Institute of Behavioral Science, the Institute for Behavioral Genetics, the Department of Classics, the Department of Geography, the Department of Integrative Physiology, the Department of Sociology, the LGBTQ Studies Program, the International Affairs Program, and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

ABSTRACT  This lecture concerns the origins of White supremacy as a cover for the immorality of slavery and colonialism.   Anthropology will legitimize the idea of White supremacy in both its biological and cultural subdisciplines, by degree.   I show the contestation of racist science by African diasporic intellectuals from the beginning until the present.  One of the many twists and turns White supremacy takes in popular discourse and scientific theories is the current 'evasive racism' and 'unmarked whiteness' that have made the denial of racism into the new racism.  There is typically a moral gloss over discriminatory behavior from Christian to 'natural' justifications for inequity, to the current performative anti-racism, that disguises on-going material discrimination. Current 'diversity regimes' achieve this 'moral cover' by misdirection, to pose 'All Lives Matter (which we already know) in place of Black Lives Matter (which White people need to learn).

About Professor Michael L. Blakey:

Michael L. Blakey is National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Anthropology, Africana Studies, and American Studies, and Founding Director of the Institute for Historical Biology at William & Mary. He received the B.A. at Howard University, the M. A. and Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and completed specialized studies at Oxford and London Universities. Blakey held professorships at Spelman College, Columbia, Brown, La Sapienza, and Howard University, where he founded the W. Montague Cobb Biological Anthropology Laboratory. He has served as president of the Association of Black Anthropologists (1987-1989), and member of the editorial boards of American Anthropologist (2012-2016) and American Antiquity (2021-). Blakey represented the United States on the Council of the 4th World Archaeological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa (1999). He is a member of the Scholarly Advisory Committee of the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution (2006-), where he previously held the position of Research Associate in Physical Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History (1985- 1994). He was a Key Advisor to the Race: Are We So Different exhibition and website ( of the American Anthropological Association (from 2008).

Blakey was Scientific Director of the New York African Burial Ground Project (1992-2009), the most sophisticated bioarchaeological project in the United States. His team began ethical bioarchaeology, the term ‘descendant community,’ and its use in an empowered public engagement intended for the democratization of knowledge. The Manhattan site became a U.S. National Monument in 2007. He continues to help facilitate descendant communities’ empowerment to tell their own stories and memorialize their dead. The African Burial Ground’s clientage model of public engagement contributed to the new best practices of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2018. Blakey has been appointed Co-Chair of the American Anthropological Association’s Commission for the Ethical Treatment of Human Remains mandated to consolidate and advance the highest ethical standards for the treatment of all human skeletons and tissue samples at archaeological sites, museums, and laboratories in the United States (2022-2024). In 2021, Blakey was presented the President’s Award of the American Anthropological Association, the Legacy Award of the Association of Black Anthropologists, and, in 2022, the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence at William & Mary. He is currently completing a 1,500-page monograph on race and racism in science and society, adding to his approximately 90 reports, refereed articles, and edited volumes.

Tuesday, March 12 at 5:00pm

Eaton Humanities, Humanities 1B50
1610 Pleasant Street, Boulder, CO 80309

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