I write in response to and in strong condemnation of racist comments recently made on social media against Patrick Johnson, a well-respected leading rowing coach. The comments were made by Misha Joukowsky, who is a family member of major donors to Brown University – donors for whom the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World is named. As such, we want to make it very clear that no formal relationships exist between the Joukowsky Institute and this individual. We reject and condemn his comments, and we stand in solidarity with Coach Johnson. The Joukowsky Institute was founded with a gift from Martha and Artemis Joukowsky in 2004 and is dedicated to the academic study and public promotion of the archaeology and art of the ancient Mediterranean, Egypt, and the Near East; it is also committed to public outreach and diversity. In 2018, for instance, the Institute’s annual State of the Field conference was dedicated to the topic of "Archaeology and Social Justice".
I also want to take this opportunity to affirm the solidarity of the Joukowsky Institute community – faculty, staff, and students alike – with the Black Lives Matter movement more widely; we support the ongoing protests across the country and believe in the need for systemic change. As archaeologists we are well aware of structural inequalities in the human past, and we cannot and will not shy away from their contemporary counterparts.
As our professional organizations have emphasized, the discipline of archaeology has a troubled past itself, and we have a long way to go to overcome colonialist and racist structures. The Joukowsky Institute is committed to pushing those boundaries in both teaching and research and to rethinking our course offerings, fieldwork, public programming, and events. We will continue to strive for new ways to diversify our discipline, to support inclusive and innovative scholarship, and to effect meaningful change in the academy and the broader society in which we are situated.
Peter van Dommelen
Director, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
Joukowsky Family Professor of Archaeology; Professor of Anthropology