African Burial Ground Summary

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The excavation of the African Burial Ground was an exciting time for the advancement of research and discovery of new knowledge. Research teams everywhere tried to collaborate on the project to conduct their own research, some demoralizing to the deceased. The New York Metropolitan Forensic Anthropology Team (MFAT) was highly concerned with gaining data towards the development of racial identification, in the name of biological anthropology. Racing methods look solely at the physical differences between Europeans and Africans, putting people on a spectrum of physical superiority and legitimizing the institution of slavery. MFAT focused on the absence or presences of stereotypical traits of Africans such as extreme jaw prognathism, extended…show more content…
No data could be shared about descendent connections or variation between continents; they solely wanted to point out the differences, the eugenics, between those in the African Burial Ground and the Euro-Americans. Blakey and Roche (1997) comment that members of the New York descendant community often identified this research troubling and that, “the methodologically constructed black identity by MFAT is dissociated from any particular culture and history, creating an identity that is culture-less, history-less and biologically shallow” (p.88 & 89). Therefore, why should someone’s relative be disturbed for the promotion of discrimination based on race? The research that MFAT was trying to publish was harming to the dead and the descendant communities. This data provides a misrepresentation of the work that has been done to understand the historical value of the site and the Africans buried there. The research was unethical, does not follow the guidelines of the Vermillion Accord (1989) set by the World Archaeological Congress. The Vermillion Accord serves to highlight the ethical responsibilities archaeologists have to the dead and the descendant
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