About Alan

New Book Out Now:

Racism, Not Race by Joseph L. Graves Jr. & Alan Goodman








Contact email: agoodman@hampshire.edu
Recent Abridged CV (2020)

Twitter: @AHGoodman18

Courtesy of Neil Stillings

Welcome to Alan’s professional site!

I am a professor of biological anthropology at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA.  My work centers on how inequalities, poverty and racism get under the skin and have biological costs and consequences. (More on that below and on the research page!)

During my career, I’ve been Vice President (2003-2005) and President (2005-2007) of the 11,000 member American Anthropological Association (AAA)

and dean of Natural Sciences, Vice President of Academic Affairs & Dean of Faculty at Hampshire College.  I am a founding and current member of the 5-College (Amherst, Mt. Holyoke, Hampshire, Smith and UMass/Amherst) Culture, Health and Science program and on the graduate faculty in  Anthropology at UMass/Amherst.

My training includes a BS (magna cum laude) in Zoology and Ph.D. in Anthropology from UMass/Amherst and multi-year fellowships in stress physiology at Karolinska Institute, Stockholm and International Nutrition at University of Connecticut and the Mexican National Institute of Nutrition.

Margaret Mead (former AAA president) with Alan, Stockholm, Sweden, 1977 at Laboratory for Clinical Stress Research.

Much of my teaching, research, and writing focus on better understanding the processes by which political/economic systems such as inequality and racism have biological consequences as indicated by measures of stress, health, and nutrition.

I have a long political and scientific interest in how race became reified (made real) and is still frequently used as if it was a “natural” reality, rather than a reified idea to justify racism.  I co-lead a public education project with an award winning website and traveling exhibit  and have recently published a companion book Race: Are We So Different? (with Yolanda Moses and Joseph Jones) and Racism, Not Race: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (with Joseph Graves).  See my page dedicated to this new book!

Teotihuacan, Mexico: Students taking a break from research on nutrition & pollution in the Solis Valley, on a grant titled “Are We What We Eat?”


My main theoretical interest focuses on how we think about “what is (human) biology” and how political-economic processes such as inequality and racism dialectically intersect with human bodies and biologicals.  This work includes measuring childhood health and nutrition in the present, mostly in Egypt and Mexico (including what Tom Leatherman and I call Coca-Colonization).  It also includes developing method and theory in paleo-epidemiology, from studying the transition to horticulture at Dickson Mounds, Illinois to the biological consequences of enslavement (New York African Burial Ground Project).

I also work on teeth as indicators of nutrition, pollution and migration.  Looking at tooth enamel is much like the news — it is mostly the bad news that is of interest.  Enamel, the hard coating of teeth, uniquely provides a nearly permanent, chronological record of physiological states: stress, nutrition, pollution, as well as movements and migrations. I’m fascinated with methods and results by which one can “read” this information from old and contemporary teeth.  In addition to a long-standing interest in reading abnormal histological events (caused by cellular processes) I collaborate with Dula Amarasiriwardena to evaluate chemical changes over time in lead, other pollutants, and nutritionally significant elements such as iron and zinc.


I live in Leverett, MA with Chaia Heller, my wife, Ruby, our
daughter, and Mazel, our Australian Cobberdog (Labradoodle).