Anthropology Community Values

Statement of Community Values

Department of Anthropology

This document presents a statement of the community values affirmed by the students, staff, and faculty of the Department of Anthropology at the University of California. However, insomuch as our Department is one small community within the larger collectivity of the University of California, and as such, subject to the regulations and statues of that larger collective, we begin this document with the University’s own statement on “principles of community”:

These principles of community for the University of California, Berkeley, are rooted in our mission of teaching, research and public service. They reflect our passion for critical inquiry, debate, discovery and innovation, and our deep commitment to contributing to a better world. Every member of the UC Berkeley community has a role in sustaining a safe, caring and humane environment in which these values can thrive.

  • We place honesty and integrity in our teaching, learning, research and administration at the highest level.

  • We recognize the intrinsic relationship between diversity and excellence in all our endeavors.

  • We affirm the dignity of all individuals and strive to uphold a just community in which discrimination and hate are not tolerated.

  • We are committed to ensuring freedom of expression and dialogue that elicits the full spectrum of views held by our varied communities.

  • We respect the differences as well as the commonalities that bring us together and call for civility and respect in our personal interactions.

  • We believe that active participation and leadership in addressing the most pressing issues facing our local and global communities are central to our educational mission.

  • We embrace open and equitable access to opportunities for learning and development as our obligation and goal.

For more information, visit UC Berkeley's Division of Equity, Inclusion & Diversity(link is external) page.

In addition to the above principles of community described above, we make the following addenda:

Community cannot exist if it is based on fear, division and exclusion. And honest inquiry is impossible if it is conducted in the context with no respect for the thinking, feeling, and perspective of others. As members of our community we are committed to the principles of inclusion, diversity, hospitality, respect, dialogue, open expression, and scientific inquiry. We stand against any form of physical or verbal abuse, sexual and psychological harrassment, any practices or forms of language that result in stigmatization or demonization of people, any assault on someone’s body or character, any threat to deport, report, or censure someone because of their race, culture, national origin, religion, sexuality, gender, ideology or class. We consider these values to be central to human dignity and to a vibrant and healthy community.

One key aspect of a vibrant university culture concerns the way we engage and respond to those with whom we disagree. While the values of debate and dialogue within intellectual life are often celebrated, to put these values into practice entails that we are able to engage openly and respectfully with our colleagues, including when we disagree—even passionately disagree—with their arguments. Importantly, this does not imply that we simply accept or endorse or remain silent in the face of an argument that we find unsatisfactory or outrightly reprehensible. Rather, it is to say that we, recognizing each other as equal partners in a shared deliberative community, agree to address each other across these divides with the mutual respect necessary for the sustenance and health of our community. We acknowledge that this is not an easy commitment to uphold, especially when passions run high and serious political and personal stakes are on the line. From students, to faculty members, to staff, we aspire to abide by this ethical principle, and seek to cultivate our ability to enact it in our daily interactions.

One central feature of an anthropological perspective, as we understand it, lies in the recognition that the conceptual standpoint from which we begin our inquiries may not be adequate for grasping the forms of life we seek to understand, and that we may, therefore, need to modify the concepts and perspectives we have inherited to do justice to the unfamiliar social forms we encounter. That is, a certain openness to having one’s own views put into question is an intrinsic and necessary feature of the practice of anthropology. We view this anthropological openness, not only as a condition for the kind of research we undertake, but also as essential to the form of engagement and dialogue we seek to promote in our department.

It is also essential to the goal of promoting diversity that we understand anthropology to embrace. Reaching across, making room for, and fundamentally valuing difference and diversity remain cornerstones of anthropological research and the ethics we cultivate in our practice. These remain core values of our discipline and also should animate our conduct and work together, as we bring the ethics and understandings cultivated in our own research and collaborative practices to the ways we value and cultivate diversity and difference among our community here at Berkeley. To embrace the diversity and difference within our own department we reflect on the value of our discipline’s distinctive purview, but remain cognizant of its entanglement with, rather than exception from, broader historical and structural inequities.

Importantly, the anthropological virtue of openness is not expressed in an ability to simply tolerate the perspectives of those with whom we disagree. Rather, it finds expression in a willingness to entertain, to enter into real dialogue and debate with, ideas and viewpoints that may at the outset make us uncomfortable. We recognize that it is never an easy task to interrogate one’s own commitments, let alone to throw them into question. But we see this practice as necessary to creating and maintaining an inclusive environment where every member of the community–staff, students, and faculty–feels invited to speak openly, assured their words will be met by a genuine desire to understand.

Lastly, we, as members of the anthropology community at UC Berkeley, acknowledge our shared responsibility to speak out in cases where the above principles of respect and inclusion are violated, and to work together to find solutions in such instances. The point here is not to shame or excoriate those who fail to uphold the community values we affirm here, but to suggest where they have infringed on those values, and remind them of our collective commitment to uphold them. We view this principle, and the others referenced above, as essential to maintaining the kind of collective spaces necessary to the flourishing of everyone in our community, whether that space be a classroom, lecture hall, or departmental office, or an email listserv or zoom meeting.

In conclusion let us note that we believe the present moment, with its tensions and struggles, is ripe for positive social change and view this document as one step in that direction.