Anthropologists Call for an End to Classifying Human Remains by Gender and Ancestry

There is an interesting controversy brewing in anthropology departments where professors have called for researchers to stop identifying ancient human remains by biological gender because they cannot gauge how a person identified at that the time. Other scholars are calling for researchers to stop identifying race as a practice because it fuels white supremacy.  One of the academics objecting to this effort to stop gender identifications, San Jose State archaeology Professor Elizabeth Weiss, is currently  suing her school. Weiss maintains that she was barred from access to the human remains collection due to her opposition to the repatriation of human remains. The school objected that she posted a picture holding a skull from the collection on social media, expressing how she was “so happy to be back with some old friends.”

The conservative site College Fix quotes various academics in challenging the identification of gender and notes the campaign of the Trans Doe Task Force to “explore ways in which current standards in forensic human identification do a disservice to people who do not clearly fit the gender binary.”

University of Kansas Associate Professor Jennifer Raff argued in a paper, “Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas,”  that there are “no neat divisions between physically or genetically ‘male’ or ‘female’ individuals.”  Her best selling book has been featured on various news outlets like MSNBC.

Weiss has criticized the book as “just plain wrong” critical points of history and objects that Raff seems “eager to pay homage to every current progressive orthodoxy.”

However, Raff is not alone. Graduate students like Emma Palladino have objected  that “the archaeologists who find your bones one day will assign you the same gender as you had at birth, so regardless of whether you transition, you can’t escape your assigned sex.”

Professors Elizabeth DiGangi of Binghamton University and Jonathan Bethard of the University of South Florida have also challenged the use of racial classifications in a study, objecting that “[a]ncestry estimation contributes to white supremacy.”  The authors write that “we use critical race theory to interrogate the approaches utilized to estimate ancestry to include a critique of the continued use of morphoscopic traits, and we assert that the practice of ancestry estimation contributes to white supremacy.”

The professors refer to the practice as “dangerous” and wrote in a letter to the editor that such practices must be changed in light of recent racial justice concerns.

“Between the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and the homicides of numerous Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement officials, we have all been reminded about the fragility of life, and the failures of our society to live up to the ideals enshrined in the foundational documents which established the United States of America over two centuries ago. Tackling these failures seems overwhelming at times; however, changes can be enacted with candid and reflexive discussions about the status quo. In writing this letter, we direct our comments to the forensic anthropology community in the United States in hopes of sparking a discussion about the long-standing practice of ancestry estimation and changes that are frankly long overdue.”

The end result of such proposals would be to curtail or bar the classification of human remains by gender or ancestral heritage by anthropologists.

This has long been a matter of heated exchanges in this field.

Indeed, a furious debate erupted after the publication of the book by former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.  The book contends that human races are a biological reality and genetic differences may help explain why some people live in tribal societies and some in advanced civilizations.

In one survey, the authors found:

“Based on our studies, anthropologists are more aptly describable as ‘squatters’ (i.e., those who maintain race is not biologically meaningful), ‘shifters’ (i.e., those who maintain race is not biologically meaningful but is a social reality), and ‘straddlers’ (i.e., those who recognize the significance and relevance of both biologically informed and sociocultural conceptualizations of race).”

It appears that this debate is no closer to reaching a consensus though “squatters” and “shifters” appear to dominate academic journals and faculties.

For some, this debate fulfills the old joke in teaching: “What do you call an academic who apologizes all the time? An anthropologist.”  Ok bad pun but the effort to bar the collection or classification of the data is hard to understand.

There is no question that these studies raise important questions of whether gender or racial bias can distort our understanding of human evolution and movement. Yet, it seems curious to some of us (admittedly, in my case, from another discipline) that you would not want this data point among the array of data used to analyze such discoveries. For example, it would seem that gender does reflect physical distinctions that impact elements of society, migration, and other relevant issues. In the end, you can collect this data and reach your own conclusions. If there were non-binary Neanderthals, I would frankly love to read about them.

I am not sure if that makes me a “squatter” but more likely an interloper. However, given the reliance on legal and political events by some of these writers, it is worth having a broader debate over whether such concerns should be used to limit scientific inquiry or classification on these points. It would seem to some of us that the focus should be not on the collection but the importance given such data.


122 thoughts on “Anthropologists Call for an End to Classifying Human Remains by Gender and Ancestry”

  1. Quite ridiculous… Human remains are clearly classified as either male or female. There is no gender it is the biological sex. If you look at who was behind all this gender nonsense it was Kinsey and Money. Both of whom were not only frauds and charlatans but actual sex offenders who committed horrific crimes within their research and outside their research. Yet their work continues to be the foundation of these activists.

  2. Dogs, cats, birds, horses, monkeys, apes, and I assume a number of other non-human species have no difficulty distinguishing between male and female human beings. However, some academics, news readers, entertainers, politicians, and Supreme Court Justices evidently have not yet evolved sufficiently to possess this ability.

  3. So, some graduate students are terrified that they might be misgendered when their bones are examined hundreds, nay thousands of years in the future. These people have a very fragile mental construct and now they want it to affect their soon to be ‘profession.’ Pathetic whining wannabees.

    1. I would suggest getting “bone tattoos”, i.e., having one’s preferred pronouns etc. carved into one’s bones, to inform later exhumers of their self-identity. That should lead to dozens of peer-reviewed papers in the distant future.

      1. RE:”That should lead to dozens of peer-reviewed papers in the distant future.” Imagine what they’ll be writing 5000 years hence after having excavated all the garbage landfills around the country.

  4. Someone accused me of being a white supremacist. I replied that my mother told me I was born with white skin but now, during the summer, I am more beige so I must be a beige supremacist. Shows how tricky this concept is.

    1. No, the word is “race.” “Ethnicity” refers to one’s forebears’ national identity. Stop being dishonest and confusing matters.

      1. Nicolas Stix, sorry, but there are no *races*. There are different ethnicities, which may not disclose a forebears’ national identity. For example. slavic.

  5. The future of anthropology if the quackademia trend continues from today

  6. You can disguise yourself with clothing, hormones, and or surgery but you will only be in disguise, never actually becoming anything other than what you are, a man trying to look like a woman or a woman trying to look like a man.

  7. What about the sex of pigs, cattle, goats, camels, dogs, cats, whatever.. Also regarding race, .If you hit a black dog with a stick after it has bitten you, are you a racist

  8. There are two main types of anthropologists: Cultural and Physical. Cultural anthropologists tend to be extremely woke (although there are examples of cultural anthropologists like Fox and Tiger who do strong, realistic scientific work on cultural questions like all the various types of family organization). Physical anthropologists work with bones, DNA, etc. Some of them engage in forensic anthropology: when a skeleton is found in a shallow grave in the woods, the cops call in a forensic anthropologist to determine the sex, race, age and other basic facts so they can get a start on who in the Missing Persons reports it might conceivably be. (Recently, DNA has made the process of identifying unknown murder victims more efficient.)

  9. This is what happens when you put college degrees in Cracker Jack boxes.

  10. Seems odd to be diagnosing in long dead/fossilized remains mental illness that didn’t exist in their natural lifespans.

    Now leave me alone as I’ll be transitioning to a Tyrannosaurus rex very soon.

    1. So, RealityBiter, if you start identifying as a T-Rex, have you single-handedly made dinosaurs UN-extinct? Well done, btw! If so, you should start a ground-roots campaign to get all museums to change the identification of their displays to “formerly” extinct. Give them a grace period of say, 90 days to change the labelling, then if they fail to do so, threaten to sue them for emotional damage if they do not comply. Non-recognition of your “truth”, smearing you as “Extinct”, would obviously cause untold emotional scarring which can only be compensated with cash/bitcoin.

  11. The satanic Left is openly and brazenly destroying our civilization with a craven bloodlust as they sense the endgame approaching, they reek of desperation because to fail would be their utter destruction.

    1. Drop the contradictory hyperbole. They can’t possibly be “openly and brazenly destroying our civilization…” and “reek[ing] of desperation.” Those of us trying to save American civilization (like moi!) are the ones reeking of desperation!

  12. It’s always a progressive moonbat women with the woke mind virus destroying our societal structures.
    Not coinincedetly its also a joo.
    They love infiltrating and infecting the host.
    Just read about rubenstien’s millions he donated to turn Madison and Jefferson’s homes into museums to critical race theory , identity politics and 1619 project revisionist history lunacy.
    They are destroying the foundations to our society to be replaced with their twisted dystopic vision

    1. Rubenstein is a disgrace as an American And so are you.

      Anyone who thinks someone’s politics flows from their genetics is a nazi moron, who’s intellect probably flows straight from the feces of chimpanzees (see how this that works, Adolf?)

    2. Enough already with the anti-Semitism. It’s hard believe there are people who still believe this crap, but I suppose it will be around until the end of time.

  13. And pet shops must no longer sell male and female kittens and puppies and such.

  14. I. Want. A. Divorce. From. You.
    And “You,” would be the Leftist woke.
    I do not want to have any part of your wokeness.
    I am not interested in your pronouns.
    I want no part of your education system from K-12 to university level. Teaching hate and division between the color of ones skin. The hate and division of ones sex.
    As most sane people look at the insanity that has taken over the Dem party, and reject in abhorrent horror. The horror . . . the horror . . .
    This Leftist ideology is the kind of thing that will end in a violent Civil War.
    Given the choice between the two, a call to arms is the only reasonable out come.

    1. I’m a man, born a man, will die as a man and I’m perfectly happy. Do we that feel this way have a say?

      1. Well..
        Sience states that their are onlky man and woman, male & female.
        I totally accept transpeople in any shape, way or form, but they are nothing more than males feeling and pretending to be females by altering their bodies, or females who feel and like to pretend to be a male by altering their bodies.
        The tragic is, and I feel for them: a trans-male will never be a man and a trans-woman never a woman.
        Whatever and however they try..

    2. You got the divorce you seek; it’s the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      Those documents have been attacked and nullified since 1860.

      Reversals and corrective action are required.

  15. He’s just taking Ilhan Omar to heart: It’s all “Some people did something” now.

    1. Why can’t we all just agree to not do “ stupid“ anymore? “JUST SAY NO”…no more.

  16. Here we are, folks. We really are in the Mass Lobotomy stage of civilization.

  17. Sounds like an idea started by someone who flunked their tests because they couldn’t remember the answers by classification.

Comments are closed.