Newsletter 2021: Department's Recent Anti-Racism Statement
Monday, May 17, 2021
Monday, May 17, 2021
The History of Art and Architecture Department’s
Recent Anti-Racism Statement and Action Plan
In light of the recent violent and inhumane deaths of unarmed Black citizens at the hands of police and in solidarity with the movement for Black Lives, the Department of History of Art and Architecture has formed the Anti-Racism Committee to address the crucial task of anti-racism education as a key part of our engagement with the local, regional, national, international, scholarly, and creative communities in which we take part. We are embarking, with the help of our students and the larger campus community and in solidarity with the global struggles of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), on a profound exploration of the colonial roots of our discipline and exploring new possibilities for anti-racist pedagogy. This work builds on the already active efforts we have taken individually in our teaching, service, and scholarship to counteract the legacies of colonialism and foster a greater understanding of how racialized and minoritized experiences have shaped our knowledge of art and architectural history. We are taking concrete steps to support BIPOC students, including the development of a new Graduate Diversity Fellowship, and strengthening our ties with BIPOC scholars and all scholars whose work examines and promotes racial justice in an intersectional framework. Our efforts expand upon the work of critical historiography in our field that has already begun internationally. They go hand in hand with our ongoing work to enhance our mentoring of students of color, students traditionally underrepresented in the academy, and first-generation college students at all levels. This statement is not an end but a beginning. It signals our deep commitment to acknowledging the radically diverse experiences and expertise of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and their crucial contributions to creative production in both historical and modern times. We hereby pledge to make our department a space for informed and compassionate discussion in the interest of progressive social change.
As part of this commitment, the Anti-Racism Committee has put forward an action plan, with which all faculty members of the department have agreed. Specifically, we will reflect on our own teaching practices and scholarship. We will interweave critical historiography—the formation of our knowledge in relation to histories of racialization and/or colonialism—into all of our syllabi. We will examine and reflect on our interactions with staff, students, and colleagues to examine social biases, microaggressions, and exclusionary practices. We will work to include issues of relevance to the representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color as well as works produced by or for BIPOC communities in all historical periods and geographical areas of art and visual culture. We have committed to inviting outside speakers of color and specialists on racial justice in our fields of specialization to hold workshops for faculty and students on teaching race, diversity, and equity. Finally, we will actively recruit and provide mentoring for BIPOC students and other historically underrepresented students including first-generation college students.
We have developed a timeline for the next two years as an immediate starting point for implementing the actions set out in the above plan, but we reaffirm that these actions will continue indefinitely as we build them into the structures of what we do. During these initial two years, the faculty is committed to reviewing our syllabi in all our courses to ensure that we address issues of race and disparity within our discipline. We will routinely assess our curriculum and survey both our undergraduate and graduate students to assess how we are doing and what we need to improve. We are committed to dismantling the racialized canon of art and architectural history, broadening scholarly perspectives, and supporting BIPOC students during their time here at UMass Amherst.