President’s Message June 2014

Dear Members and Friends of SAR,

Two months after being named president of SAR by the institution’s Board of Directors, I shifted to emeritus status at Williams College in Massachusetts and loaded my car. A week later I was unpacking books and files in the SAR president’s office, having traded the gentle Berkshires for the more austere Sangre de Cristos.

Michael F. BrownMichael F. BrownSAR PresidentMichael F. BrownSAR President

Settling into that historic space reminded me of the scale of SAR’s achievements as an institution that has fostered innovative research and artistic creativity for more than a century. Lining the shelves in the office’s sitting area are 150 books published by SAR Press, which represents only half of the Press’s total production since 1908. Next to my desk hangs a poster from a 2002 event called Clay Beings Reunion, sponsored by SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center and featuring the work of such noted indigenous potters as Stella Teller, Ignacia Duran, and Tony Dallas. Elsewhere in the room stand eighty books produced by SAR resident scholars over the years, fruits of SAR’s financial support.

Although the Southwest is woven into SAR’s institutional DNA, for the past half-century SAR programs have addressed global as well as regional questions. This cosmopolitanism is clearly reflected in the works of the distinguished scholars and Native American artists who have benefited from SAR fellowships and advanced seminars.

Why would I leave a secure job at a great liberal-arts college for the challenge of managing an institution two thousand miles away? Because of SAR’s storied past, its recent successes, and its promising future. SAR’s location in our nation’s most culturally vibrant state capital was another factor pulling me west.

In the coming months I look forward to sharing my passion for SAR’s programs with members and the many others whom we hope to welcome as members. If you’ve never seen the SAR campus or attended one of SAR’s public events, please stop by to ask for more information. You’ll be impressed by what you see.


Michael F. Brown, PhD

About Michael F. Brown

Raised in upstate New York, Dallas, Texas, and Kansas City, Missouri, Michael Brown received his AB degree from Princeton and a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan. His research has covered a broad range of topics, including the indigenous peoples of Amazonia, new religious movements, and the global challenge of protecting indigenous cultural property from misuse. He has been awarded research fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Institute for Advanced Study. At SAR, he has been a resident scholar and a participant in two advanced seminars.

In addition to scholarly articles, Brown is the author of six books, including The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age (1997), Who Owns Native Culture? (2003), and Upriver: The Turbulent Life and Times of an Amazonian People (2014). He has also published general-interest articles and reviews in Natural History, Smithsonian, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the New York Times Book Review. A list of his publications, many downloadable as full-text PDF files, is accessible here.