News and Announcements

  • New Exhibit Examines Race and Proof

    Academic year 2012-2013 is the Year of Proof here at Penn, and to celebrate, the Penn Museum has unveiled a new exhibit co-curated by Dr. Janet Monge, "Masking and Unmasking Race". The exhibit asks the question: Is there such a thing in humans called race? Check it out at the Penn Museum now through August 18th.

    In conjunction with the exhibit, Dr. Monge, along with Dr. Geoffrey Aguirre of Penn's Neurology Department will be giving a talk on October 4th entitled "From Skulls to Scans: How Brain Measurements Have Been Used, Misused, and Misunderstood in the Study of Racial Differences". The talk will be held at 4:30 in the Nevil Gallery. Read more here.

  • Anthropology Accolades

    Penn Anthropology congratulates the class of 2012! Eleven of our graduate students and  thirty-four of our undergraduates will be awarded degrees this May. We also congratulate all of our students, past and present, who have received awards and honors this past year.

    Click for more information about the various honorees (graduate and undergraduate) or here for a full list of our 2012 graduates.

  • Innovative Teaching

    Penn Anthro Professor John Jackson has been named the 2012 recipient of the Dean's Award for Innovation in Teaching by the School of Arts and Sciences here at Penn. This award is presented annually to faculty members who have made use of innovative teaching techniques in the service of outstanding teaching. Dr. Jackson will be honored, along with other award-winners, at a School-wide reception on Wednesday, April 25 at 4:00 p.m. in 200 College Hall.

    To learn more about Dr. Jackson and his work, click here.

  • Anthropologies of Africa Across Decades and Disciplines

    Please join us in honoring Dr. Sandra T. Barnes on the occasion of her retirement. Dr. Barnes received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1974 and has been teaching at Penn since 1973. She was the founding director of Penn's African Studies Center and a consulting curator in the African Section of the Penn Museum. Read more about Dr. Barnes, her work, and her legacy here.

    Anthropologies of Africa Across Decades and Disciplines: A Day to Honor Sandra Barnes will take place from 8:30am-5:00pm on Saturday, April 28th. The full schedule can be found here. For more information, contact Christy Schuetze.

  • Phillip Vallentine Tobias: 1925-2012

    On June 7th, 2012, Phillip Vallentine Tobias passed away at the age of 86 after a long illness. Born in South Africa in 1925, Tobias was a renowned expert in the fields of paleoanthropology and  human evolution. He worked with a number of other famous paleoanthropologists including Raymond Dart and Louis Leakey, and helped to expose the Piltdown Man hoax.

    Tobias was a visiting scholar here at Penn for three academic years (1992-93, 1993-94 and 1994-95) and in 1994  the University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Click here for more on Tobias' life, work, and legacy.

  • The Bioarchaeology of Human Sacrifice

    The May 30th issue of Science features an article about how bioanthropological techniques are contributing to our understanding of the practice of human sacrifice. The Penn Museum's own excavations at Ur are featured prominently, as recent analysis of the remains discovered there revealed evidence of trauma, countervailing the excavators' original poisoning theory. The CT scan at left shows one of the analyzed skulls with evidence of trauma.

    The article also ties in to the Maya 2012: Lords of Time exhibit, on now through January 13th here at the Penn Museum. Click here to see Loa Traxler, Maya 2012 curator, discuss human sacrifice among the Maya.

  • Honoring Dr. Sandra Barnes

    SANDRA T. BARNES is professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her research and publications focus on African urbanism, religion, politics, and history.  She is the author of Patrons and Power:  Creating a Political Community in Metropolitan Lagos (1986), for which she received the Amaury Talbot Prize, and Africa's Ogun:  Old World and New (1989 and 2nd expanded edition, 1997).  She is a former president of the African Studies Association, and has served on the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies, the African Studies Association, the Stanford University Humanities Center, and the Foundation for the Advancement of International Medical Education and Research.  She was the founding director of the African Studies Center of the University of Pennsylvania in which capacity she served for 10 years, and co-director of Penn’s multi-school, multi-discipline Africa Health Group.  Barnes is currently serving as the Senior Adviser to the Africa Humanities Program (an ACLS-administered, Carnegie Corporation-funded, fellowship program for African faculty at universities in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa, and writing a study of cultural and social pluralism in pre-colonial West Africa.


  • 179 years later, closure at Duffy's cut

    On March 5th, the remains of five Irish immigrant workers left the Penn Museum on their way to their final resting place in Laurel Hill Cemetary. The remains were excavated from a mass grave known as Duffy's Cut, located near Malvern, PA. Though the workers were originally thought to have fallen victim to cholera in 1832, Penn Anthropology Professor Janet Monge and graduate student Samantha Cox found evidence that they were actually executed, possibly out of xenophobia, and fear that they would spread the disease.

    Read more in the Philadelphia Inquirer, or see a video of Dr. Monge speaking about the team's findings here.

  • Sandesara talks tragedy and its aftermath

    Penn Anthropology MD-PhD student Utpal Sandesara, along with co-author Tom Wooten, will be at the Penn Book Center at 5:30pm on Monday, 3/19 to discuss No One Had a Tongue to Speak, their narrative nonfiction account of the 1979 Macchu dam disaster in India, which killed as many as 25,000 people.

    Sandesara's mother survived the disaster, and in 2006 he and Wooten spent 11 weeks in India researching the flood through extensive interviews and archival research.  Adam Hochshild, author of King Leopold's Ghost, calls No One Had a Tongue to Speak "an absorbing story not just about bureaucratic ambition and folly, but about power and powerlessness."

  • NSF and National Geographic Recognize Fernandez-Duque

    Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, has been awarded a grant from the National Geographic Society and has been recommended for funding by the National Science Foundation for the study of the first two sets of twins ever born in the owl monkey population of Argentina after more than 250 births recorded over 15 years. Read more here, or on the Owl Monkey Project official website.

    The project was also featured in a several segments for National Geographic Radio and Video and received a recent nod in Science. Click here to listen to the interview with Dr. Fernandez-Duque, or here to see a video segment.