May 1, 2019
2015 graduate Liz Ale recently landed in the headlines due to her work as a Collections and Repatriation Consultant for the FBI. Through that position, she participated in her first repatriation ceremony in which illegally obtained artifacts were returned to China. Ale is currently completing her Masters in Museum Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis after obtaining her degree in Anthropology with a minor in Italian from VCU.
Ale describes repatriation as both personally and professionally “unique because it [combines] all four subdisciplines of anthropology” and helps decolonize the field through cross-cultural collaboration. As a result, anthropology provides Ale with the ability to “research in ways that benefit communities.
Activism has always been important to Ale; she has found one of the lasting advantages of studying anthropology is gaining a greater appreciation and understanding for people from different cultural backgrounds. She also credits the “diversity of voices in the classroom” as another asset of the School of World Studies in general.
Ale not only hadn’t decided on this major before entering VCU, she didn’t even know what anthropology was! After an introductory class, however, Ale “was hooked” and found herself most interested in cultural anthropology. While social sciences may seem less appreciated over the past few years, Ale feels today’s social climate proves we need better communication across cultural boundaries than ever.
Ale’s ultimate aspiration is not only to obtain a Ph.D. in anthropology but also to work collaboratively with communities to decolonize museum practices and collections. Her tremendous accomplishment in helping repatriate artifacts to China proves she’s well on her way towards that goal!