Graduate student set to represent UAB on the General Anthropology Division Board

Chadra Pittman was invited to serve two years as a student representative on the General Anthropology Division Board.
Written by: Katherine Kirk
Media Contact: Adam Pope


 Anthropology streamChadra Pittman
Photo by Ariel Cochran
University of Alabama at Birmingham  graduate student Chadra Pittman was selected as a student representative on the General Anthropology Division Board, one of the largest and most diverse sections of the American Anthropological Association.

Pittman was nominated to the GAD by Lisa Gezon, Ph.D., professor and chair of the UAB Department of Anthropology, and will serve in this role for two years. Pittman says she was drawn to work with this division because she was impressed by the board’s stance on social justice and their commitment to addressing the multiple oppressions that face humanity.

“On a global stage, as well as domestically, human rights are being challenged and denied, which results in civil unrest, human suffering and, in many cases, loss of life,” Pittman said. “This position allows me to work in collaboration with esteemed scholars like GAD President Kathryn A. Kozaitis, Ph.D., anthropology professor at Georgia State University; Lisa Gezon, Ph.D.,; and the other members of GAD, utilizing the tools of anthropology to educate, advocate and engage in emancipatory scholarship.”  

Pittman says the rigor of UAB’s Anthropology of Peace and Human Rights program and her graduate teaching position at the Institute for Human Rights with Tina Kempin-Reuter, Ph.D., prepared her for this opportunity, and she is proud to represent the university on a national level.

“My sacred and scholarly work is centered on creating spaces for the voices of those who have been marginalized or permanently silenced to be finally heard,” Pittman said. “I am thrilled to have the platform of the AAA and GAD to elevate these voices, and I will proudly carry the spirits of those, named and unnamed, who fought for justice and freedom in the city of Birmingham.”  

Pittman, a native of the Bronx, New York, is currently pursuing her master’s degree in anthropology of peace and human rights at UAB.

She serves as a remembrance expert in Hampton, Virginia, where she orchestrates an annual remembrance ceremony. With the support of her partners, the Hampton History Museum, the National Park Service and the Fort Monroe Authority, the ceremony honors the lives of the millions of Africans who perished in the middle passage of the transatlantic trade. She has arranged many ceremonies, including the 400th African Landing Healing Day Commemoration, for Nikole Hannah-Jones of the 1619 Project and the Inaugural Juneteenth National Holiday Commemoration at the Fort Monroe National Monument site. In addition, she creates ceremonies to honor those who have lost their lives due to intimate partner and domestic violence.  

“I worked at the world-renowned 17th century New York African Burial Ground project, led by biological anthropologist Michael L. Blakey, Ph.D., National Endowment for the Humanities professor at William & Mary,” Pittman said. “The experience of the ABG set the stage for my anthropological career. Since the ABG, my research has centered on giving voice to the untold chapters in history like chattel slavery in colonial New York, honoring ancestors of the middle passage and other egregious crimes against humanity, and ensuring these chapters find their rightful place in the historical record.”

Working with her adviser, Jordan Kiper, Ph.D., Pittman is set to graduate in April of 2024 and hopes to continue her education by pursuing her Ph.D. in anthropology.

“UAB’s APHR program has helped to sharpen my theoretical and research skills within the discipline and has prepared me for this appointment and for my role as feminist anthropologist trying to create a safer, more just and peaceful world,” Pittman said.