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Anthropology and Museum Studies

College of the Sciences

Congratulations Golden Graduates of 2020!

 The Department of Anthropology and Museum Studies at CWU would like to congratulate you on the momentous occasion of your graduation. We are so happy for you and proud to celebrate your transformation from students of anthropology to anthropologists in your own right. While you have faced myriad challenges in this final quarter, you demonstrated your perseverance, resilience, and dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, mutual understanding, and peaceful coexistence. In this moment we encourage you to harness the potential and momentum for change and remind you, “that mythological worlds have been built up only to be shattered again, and that new worlds were built from the fragments” (Boas 1898:18).

As students of anthropology, primatology, cultural resource management, and museum studies, you are familiar with the concept of rites of passage. Rites of passage are rituals that prepare us for transitioning from one state to another. Commencement is a rite of passage that symbolizes years of hard work, critical (self) reflection, determination, and personal and professional growth. It marks the shift from being a student to being a graduate. Although we cannot be with you to celebrate, we have prepared a graduation package for you, which will be sent to the address you provided. In the package, you will find graduation cords. The colors of the cords are golden yellow and white in order to symbolize the liminality of anthropology. It is often said that anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities. Golden yellow symbolizes the sciences, while white symbolizes the humanities and liberal arts. Each color is intertwined, just as these valuable perspectives—scientific and humanistic—are now intertwined within you. Gold also marks the 50th anniversary of CWU’s Department of Anthropology & Museum Studies and you are a member of the 2020 Class of Golden Graduates.

We recognize that this graduation ceremony is not the same as those of previous years. You are completing your rite of passage, at a time when the world itself is in the throes of liminality. Tectonic shifts are under way and we don't yet know the outcome. It's a time of confusion and difficulty, but also one for seeing things more clearly and for imagining new possibilities. As anthropologists, we understand that cultures are not static and the boundaries and meanings of our social worlds are constantly changing. We also believe your commencement stands as a testament to the reality that your class, the class of 2020, represents the beginning of a new way of being in the world and of relating to one another.

As you celebrate this achievement and prepare for your roles as professional anthropologists, we invoke the words of Zora Neale Hurston, “there are years that ask questions and years that answer.” The time to practice and apply the critical, holistic, and inclusive approaches of our discipline is now. The world is ready for you, and we are confident that your training has prepared you for the world. As you proceed, may 2020 no longer evoke merely the idea of hindsight, but also foresight, with critical thinking and contributions to alternative futures. Be open to thinking about the world from as many perspectives and through as many voices as possible. Listen, contextualize, reflect, and remember the first principle and priority of our discipline, “do no harm.”

Whatever you do, whether you hold still for a while or forge ahead with some purpose, you are part of this new world-making, and this we know—it will be better for your role in it. Thank you for being an important voice in the department and at CWU. We wish you all the best and encourage you to stay in touch.

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