President’s Message 2009–2010

The Long View at the School for Advanced Research

James F. BrooksJames F. BrooksPresident and Chief Executive OfficerJames F. BrooksPresident and Chief Executive Officer

With each passing day, we at the School, like you, are experiencing the forces of history in an astonishingly personal and immediate fashion. From a global economic crisis that threatens massive social and political unrest—and which saw the School’s endowment decline by almost a third—to a presidency that few of us thought possible in our lifetimes, the pace of change seemed sometimes cataclysmic, sometimes exhilarating.

Our programs at SAR lend perspective on these events, reminding us in the best of ways that our institutional stability and maturity find reflection in the “long view” at the center of the social sciences, humanities, and arts. Even as we made tactical adjustments to our finances and programming that would ensure our mission’s viability for future generations of scholars and artists, we see in this year’s work on campus evidence that maintaining depth of field is a crucial aspect of SAR’s “peculiar alchemy.”

In September we host an Advanced Seminar in honor of president emeritus Doug Schwartz to explore “Toward a Global Human History: Agency and the Explanation of Long-Term Change,” under the leadership of archaeologists Timothy Pauketat and John Robb. Archaeological investigations of the human past continue with three Research Team Seminars supported by the National Science Foundation, ranging topically from 17th-century Spanish entradas into North Carolina and long-term settlement histories of the Shala Valley, Albania, to new interpretations of evidence from Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. Our recent bestseller from SAR Press, Steve Lekson’s A History of the Ancient Southwest, likewise seeks the “big picture” across vast sweeps of time.

Dominic HenryDominic HenryDominic Henry

Our Resident Scholars bring the past into the present, perhaps most explicitly in the work of Anne Ray Fellow Sherry Farrell Racette’s writing project on “Material Culture as Encoded Objects and Memory.” A Métis scholar and artist from Canada, Racette will also serve as mentor to our two Native resident interns, Dominic Henry and Kendall Tallmadge. Similarly, Lamon Fellow Christopher B. Teuton recruits the “Turtle Island Liars’ Club” to bring traditional Cherokee stories to the service of contemporary Cherokee people. Working in “real time” are three medical anthropologists—Charles L. Briggs, James A. Trostle, and Lynn M. Morgan—who examine critical issues in public health in Latin America, from Venezuela to Ecuador to Mexico and Guatemala.

We at SAR consider ourselves fortunate to be a part of this moment in history—as fascinating from the long view as it feels disquieting in the here-and-now, and we will strive to practice prudence and vision in equal measure. Cottonwoods on the SAR CampusCottonwoods on the SAR Campus. Download and view the 2008–2009 Annual Review.Cottonwoods on the SAR Campus. Download and view the 2008–2009 Annual Review.The image featured here—a long shot that captures both the majesty of our century-old “great cottonwood” and, in the foreground, a cottonwood sapling that we planted in 2007 to prepare for the passing of the old icon, signals our commitment to constancy in our mission. As you tour our website, you’ll see that in all our programs we seek to combine the wisdom of maturity with the vigor of imagination, supporting people and projects ranging from breakthrough Native artists like sculptor Adrian Wall and painter Marla Allison to trenchant new publications from SAR Press on topics like development-driven displacements, the evolution of leadership in middle-range societies, and public health delivery in violence-riven communities.

SAR’s public education programs span time and distance as well. Our Southwest Crossroads educational Web site hosts some 60,000 unique users each year, from here in New Mexico to as far away as New Zealand. 2009–2010 Membership Lectures2009–2010 Membership Lectures2009–2010 Membership LecturesOur Lecture Series offers the public similarly useful knowledge, in that our 2009–2010 speakers will explore the social and cultural dimensions of “wealth”—that is, of everything from economic decision-making among Cachupin monkeys to Caribbean pirates’ notions of material wealth and social inequality and the circulation of wealth in Bronze Age China. Our Field Trips will take you off the beaten path to seldom-seen sites and experiences throughout our Southwest, from the historic Los Luceros Hacienda—once the home of Mary Cabot Wheelright—to ancestral Navajo “pueblitos” in the Dinétah.

Altogether, the year ahead will doubtless prove as challenging as the past year remains marked in our memories. As we look forward, we draw confidence from the long view of human history, the depth of anthropological understanding of human nature, and the strength of our ability to support and enrich the lives of scholars, artists, educators, and the interested public.

—James F. Brooks

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