President’s Message

“Words”

Every year the School pulses to the beat of words and the ideas they represent, sounding throughout our campus at 660 Garcia Street. From formal colloquium discussions to informal exchanges over a game of billiards, “Every word has a story and every stone.”—Malena Mörling, research associateartists and scholars engage in the verbal interplay that has enriched human society for thousands of years. At SAR, these words will ultimately find expression in particular forms—an essay, a painting, a monograph, a weaving. And every year, of course, thousands of words appear in print through the publications of SAR Press. Indeed, we might say that the very existence of words as fundamental components of language lie at the foundation of our mission: to understand and communicate the human experience.

James F. Brooks, President and CEOJames F. Brooks, President and CEO
James F. Brooks, President and CEO
Brent Michael DavidsBrent Michael DavidsDean FalkDean FalkDean Falk being interviewed on the SAR Campus by the BBC/Canada Discovery Channel show “Daily Planet.”
Brent Michael DavidsDean Falk
Santee FrazierSantee Frazier2011 SAR Indigenous Writer-in-Residence Fellow2011 Summer Scholars2011 Summer Scholars
Santee Frazier2011 Summer Scholars
Art in Our Lives: Native Women Artists in DialogueArt in Our Lives: Native Women Artists in DialogueResident FellowsResident Fellows
Art in Our Lives: Native Women Artists in DialogueResident Fellows

Yet this year, our 104th, we brought words to the forefront of our work at SAR in new and exciting ways. We began with the announcement of our new Literary Arts Program, supported by the Lannan Foundation. Realizing a dream that began with our founder, Edgar Lee Hewett, who imagined poetics as essential to the “science of man,” this program combines Patrick Lannan’s commitment to writers and writing with SAR’s unique community of scholars and artists. Our first indigenous writer-in-residence, Santee Frazier, inaugurated the program in January and closed his time at the School with a memorable conversation and reading that featured his guest, Ojibwe writer and literary critic David Treuer. Two months later we hosted our first “Writers Reading/Reading Writers” evening, with Swedish poet and Lannan Fellow Malena Mörling reading from her translations of Tomas Tranströmer, as well as from her own poems, a celebration of precise and evocative word selection in both.

The arrival of senior scholar Dean Falk in residence in the same month as Frazier also directed our attention to words. Her recently published Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants & the Origins of Language had generated excitement among her peers in paleoneurology with its provocative thesis that language developed as a tool for fostering emotional “tethers” between hominin mothers and their infants when mothers became bipedal food-gatherers as well as caregivers. The cultural centrality of language also received a spotlight in the work of Edmundo Cruz Luna, our 2011 Smeall Fellow in Anthropological Linguistics, on “Negotiating Linguistic and Cultural Identities Online in Balinese.” Luna’s analysis shows that the Internet can aid in empowering and maintaining traditional identities in his study of online forums and social networking sites where the primary language is Balinese.

Words reached across the arroyo that bisects the SAR campus as two dynamic Anne Ray Native Interns, Gloria Bell (Métis) and Teresa Montoya (Diné), established intellectual colleagues among our class of researchers and writers. Gloria’s and Teresa’s curatorial work in creating digital exhibits on topics like collecting practices and trade brought knowledge stewarded among the collections of the Indian Arts Research Center to viewers near and far. Native artist fellows Aric Chopito (Zuni), Linda Aguilar (Chumash), and Brent Michael Davids (Mohican) joined in evening conversations with this year’s resident scholars, visiting research associates, and summer scholars, where words worked energetically to craft a remarkably well-knit community. With field sites ranging from Zanzibar to Morocco, and from upstate Wisconsin to the deserts and mountains of the Great Basin, and with approaches spanning archaeology, ethnography, applied anthropology, ethnomusicology, and history, all of us at SAR appreciated anew the breadth of the School’s intellectual embrace as we found ourselves adding significantly to our vocabularies.

This breadth is evident, too, in the words that form SAR Press’s Advanced Seminar titles, with volumes such as The Roots of Conflict, which looks at linkages between land, climate, crops, human populations, and their cultural structures in Hawai`i; Pharmaceutical Self, exploring the worldwide proliferation of psychopharmaceutical use; and Forces of Compassion, engaging ethical and political dilemmas in humanitarian work, as just a sampling. This year’s Resident Scholar Series began with David Kamper’s The Work of Sovereignty: Tribal Labor Relations at the Navajo Nation and ended with the launch of Circe Sturm’s eagerly awaited Becoming Indian: The Struggle over Cherokee Identity in the Twenty-first Century.

All in all, the words we wrote, spoke, published, and shared shaped the richness of the past year’s work at SAR, which you will find fully described in the digital publication of this year’s review.

—James F. Brooks, President and CEO

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