Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst, was recently appointed to serve on the Board of Directors for Mass Humanities. She was sworn in on March 26.
Dr. Battle-Baptiste is a historical archaeologist who focuses on the intersectional relationship of race, class, gender and the shaping of cultural landscapes across the African Diaspora. She is a scholar and activist who views the classroom and the university as a space to engage contemporary issues with a sensibility of the past. Her book, Black Feminist Archaeology (Left Coast Press, 2011), outlines the basic tenets of Black feminist thought and research for archaeologists and shows how it can be used to improve contemporary historical archaeology as a whole.
She first came in contact with Mass Humanities through their annual public readings of Frederick Douglass' famous Fourth of July address, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" These readings take place annually across the commonwealth, with the flagship event occurring in Boston. Battle-Baptiste has participated in this program as the discussion facilitator in both Springfield and Amherst.
The mission of Mass Humanities is to conduct and support programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Foundation for Humanities and Public Policy, now simply known as Mass Humanities, was established in 1974 as the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and is an independent programming and grant-making organization that receives support from the NEH and the Massachusetts Cultural Council as well as private sources.
"I strongly believe in the work that is done by Mass Humanities and I am humbled and excited to serve the commonwealth of Massachusetts in this capacity," says Battle-Baptiste.