Summer Scholars

Summer scholar fellowships were awarded this year to seven scholars in anthropology and related fields to pursue research or writing projects that promote understanding of human behavior, culture, society, and the history of anthropology. Both humanistically and scientifically oriented scholars are supported by these fellowships.

Design 3 Nancy Owen Lewis

Nancy Owen Lewis § Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar

“Selling Health in New Mexico: Evidence of Disease in the Land of the Well”

Nancy Owen Lewis’s proposed book focuses on the thousands of health seekers who came to New Mexico between 1880 and 1940 seeking a cure for tuberculosis, once the leading cause of death in America. Officials promoted New Mexico's healthful climate and the legislature provided tax breaks for sanatorium construction. The state’s growing reputation as a health resort brought numerous indigent consumptives to a territory unable to address the health needs of its own people. The “lungers,” as they were called, played a critical role in New Mexico's struggle for statehood and its development in the decades that followed.

This summer, Nancy Owen Lewis completed two chapters of her book, focusing on two segments of the health-seeker movement that have received little historical attention—indigents and native New Mexicans. Frequently overshadowed by the well-educated, monied individuals, indigents “chased the cure on their feet,” hoping the climate alone would be sufficient. Native New Mexicans, on the other hand, were incorrectly perceived to be free of tuberculosis until three pivotal events occurred in 1918 that changed that belief forever.

“The fellowship enabled me to make significant progress on this topic. Devoting much of my time to writing, I completed two chapters. I also conducted key interviews and obtained the additional photographs needed to illustrate the book, which will be published by SAR Press. I hope to submit the completed manuscript early next year,” said Lewis.

Find out more about Nancy Owen Lewis by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

Sharon N. DeWitte

Sharon N. DeWitte § Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar

“Dynamics of an Ancient Emerging Disease: Demographic and Health Consequences of Medieval Plague”

Sharon N. DeWitte is investigating the demographic and health effects of the Black Death in fourteenth-century London. Using data from medieval cemeteries, DeWitte examines whether the selective mortality of the plague, combined with improvements in standards of living following the epidemic, resulted in a population that was healthier, on average, than the pre-epidemic population.

While at SAR, DeWitte analyzed data from several hundred skeletons from three medieval London cemeteries. She found that overall risks of mortality decreased following the Black Death and that people survived to later adult ages, both of which indicate improvements in health after the epidemic. During her fellowship, she completed a draft of an article summarizing the results, to be submitted to the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DeWitte also revised an article on sex differences in oral health in catastrophic (Black Death) vs. normal mortality medieval samples, which she submitted to the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Find out more about Sharon N. DeWitte by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

Peggy Levitt

Peggy Levitt § Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar

“The Bog and the Beast: Museums, the Nation, and the World”

If in the past, museums helped create national citizens by showcasing the knowledge and customs shared by millions of people who would never meet, in today’s global world, do they create global citizens too? In travelogue form, Peggy Levitt’s upcoming book The Bog and the Beast is the story of how cutting-edge museums are making sense of immigration and globalization. She explores how museums walk the line between the global and the national and whether they will ultimately fuel nationalist fires or help create a brave new global world.

Based on her conversations with museum directors, curators, and policymakers, the exhibits she has visited, and the stories she’s collected, Levitt explores how museums create global citizens without a nationalist agenda. She is comparing museums in seemingly provincial Boston with their counterparts in New York City. Internationally, she focuses on museums in Denmark, Sweden, Singapore, Qatar, and the Guggenheim and Hermitage museum franchises in Bilbao and Amsterdam, respectively.

During her residency at SAR, Levitt drafted the book’s Singapore chapter and completed her chapter on the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston and the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. “Unlike the museums I studied in Sweden, neither the MFA nor the Brooklyn Museum mounts exhibits about climate change or human trafficking. Nor are they part of a government strategy, as in Singapore, to catapult New York or Boston to the center of the global art world. They are both, however, in different ways and to different degrees, speaking to their visitors about the world and their place in it,” said Levitt.

Find out more about Peggy Levitt by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

Khalil Anthony Johnson Jr.

Khalil Anthony Johnson Jr. § Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar

“Red, Black, and Brown: African American Educators in Indian Country”

Khalil Anthony Johnson Jr.’s PhD dissertation, titled “Red, Black, and Brown: African American Educators in Indian Country,” is a history of the hundreds of African American educators who taught in Indian Country schools and their relationships with the Native communities in which they worked. Johnson argues that the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision had an unintended consequence: it displaced an estimated forty thousand African American educators from Southern schools, sending hundreds of black teachers into Bureau of Indian Affairs–run schools on reservations across the United States. Excluded from the protections of true citizenship in the South, black teachers found relative security through federal employment, only to become functionaries in the government’s efforts to assimilate another internally colonized people. Johnson used his tenure at SAR to complete the bulk of his archival research and write initial drafts of two dissertation chapters.

Find out more about Khalil Anthony Johnson Jr. by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann

Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann § Cotsen Summer Scholar

“Hidden Palimpsests: Unraveling Nineteenth-century Islamic Talismans in Asante, Ghana”

Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann examines nineteenth-century Islamic talismans in Asante that are part of a living tradition—a local social phenomenon in which artifacts and manuscripts circulate in the past and present. Situated in royal and community repositories that are the most extensive collections of such items in the world, these are the oldest Islamic talismans in existence. Many were requisitioned during British imperial expeditions. Controversial according to Islam, countless have been burned, while some are buried or kept secretly. Most lie in extremely fragile conditions. Ms. Engmann used her time at SAR to prepare two article manuscripts based on her study.

Find out more about Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

Lawrence Rosen

Lawrence Rosen § William Y. and Nettie K. Adams Summer Scholar in the History of Anthropology

“Romancing the Tribe: The History of an Anthropological Problem”

Lawrence Rosen studies the ways in which anthropologists have used the concept of the “tribe” as a test for their various theories. The tribe has figured prominently in the history of anthropology, and many of the discipline’s most central theories have been tested against this social form. Rosen’s research traces the history of anthropological ideas about the tribe and suggests that scholars and public policymakers continue to be drawn into a discussion whose roots and implications, not being fully understood, have often resulted in errors of great consequence.

Rosen spent the summer researching and preparing chapters on the earliest and most recent debates about tribal structures. He also completed a chapter for a book to be titled Drawn From Memory on the nature of Berber/Arab tribal organization in central Morocco. Additionally, he plans to use the materials he collected at the SAR library and through his extensive conversations with Native Americans, science writers, museum directors, and the many scholars and authors who live in Santa Fe for a more general book on tribes. “They have all stimulated and widened my thinking and have been simply extraordinary in their quality as scholars and their collegiality in all discussions. The effects of this brief summer will carry well into the future for me, and I am most grateful for the experience,” said Rosen.

Find out more about Lawrence Rosen by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

Christopher Ball

Christopher Ball § Christopher Smeall Scholar in Anthropological Linguistics

“Exchanging Words: Language, Ritual, and Relationality in Brazil’s Xingu Indigenous Park”

Chris Ball spent his residency finalizing a book manuscript on an ethnographic investigation of how Wauja people of Central Brazil use linguistic, ritual, and exchange practices in the production of social relations with powerful others at home and abroad. It is based on more than twelve months of intensive research in the Wauja community and with Wauja people at multiple sites. The chapters move narratively and ethnographically from the local village context to the regional Xinguan surrounding and then the national Brazilian and global scales.

Find out more about Christopher Ball by visiting the SAR website (opens in new browser window).

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