An anthropology professor from the University of Pennsylvania has received searing criticism for using a Nazi-related phrase and gesture in a virtual archaeological conference hosted by the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA). Assuming that a fellow speaker cut him off, Robert Schuyler raised his arm in a Nazi salute and said, “Sieg heil to you.”

During the plenary session, University of York Ph.D. candidate Liz Quinlan discussed the growing accessibility of future SHA events and conferences, but when Schuyler was given permission to speak, he began to talk about impacted membership renewals and the annual meeting in 2022.

Quinlan interjected to return to the original topic, but Schuyler took offense, believing that his fellow speaker tried to limit his freedom of speech. After a brief exchange, the UPenn professor used the Nazi phrase and salute, which enraged his colleagues.

Schuyler began to regret his actions when he received emails from other archaeologists denouncing his actions. Quinlan also filed a complaint with SHA, where she described how demoralizing the incident was because she was an invited speaker.

“To not only be interrupted, but to be spoken to with such vitriol and anger by a senior researcher in my field is demoralizing, embarrassing, and deeply upsetting. The apparent inclusion of a Nazi salute and reference to a Nazi victory cry, whether done in jest or otherwise, is both enormously offensive and abhorrent,” wrote Quinlan. 

Schuyler is awaiting instructions on how to handle the situation and noted that Quinlan deserves an apology. University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy and School of Arts and Sciences Dean Steven Fluharty have not responded to inquiries regarding any disciplinary action, but the Penn Museum, where Schuyler works as an associate curator, has denounced the incident.

“The Penn Museum condemns this reprehensible behavior and dangerous rhetoric. It is the antithesis of who we are and what we stand for.” Penn Museum Public Relations Director Jill DiSanto wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian

Social media users called for Schuyler’s termination. Some said that denouncing his actions without consequences will be meaningless.