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Every year SAR welcomes a new cohort of resident scholars, who spend nine months studying, writing, and participating in the intellectual life of the campus. As usual, the 2019–2020 scholars brought with them a variety of interests and projects, but they came together in their appreciation of the time, the place, and the community they found here.
Fátima Suárez, one of two Mellon fellows, wrote most of her dissertation, which explores the meanings of Latino fatherhood. “During these past nine months,” she says, “I have learned a great deal about myself and the kind of scholar that I want to be and the type of scholarship that I want to produce. Not only did SAR provide a mental and physical space for me to think through and write my dissertation, but it also introduced me to a community of scholars who were my mentors and friends.”
Fátima Suarez
Davina Two Bears
This year’s Anne Ray fellow, Davina Two Bears, integrated archival research into a book manuscript about the Old Leupp Boarding School, an early twentieth-century federal Indian boarding school located on the southwest Navajo reservation. “As a Navajo archaeologist, it is important for me to research sites that are significant to the Diné (Navajo) people and to share the results with my tribe and others.” She also mentored the 2019–2020 Anne Ray interns, Erin Monique Grant and Amanda Sorensen, which she describes as “an honor and rewarding experience.”
Patricia Crown, one of two Weatherhead fellows, emphasizes the impact of SAR on her career in anthropology. She first applied for a residential fellowship at SAR in 1984, and since then she has organized or co-organized three Advanced Seminars and edited and contributed to a number of books from SAR Press. Her book on Chacoan cylinder jars, which she worked on while at SAR, “will be the culmination of 20 years of research.”

SAR provided largely uninterrupted time, which gave me the opportunity to read extensively, catching up on literature I had missed and finding new studies I knew nothing about. I cannot emphasize enough what a luxury it has been to have this reading time. The peaceful grounds of SAR are the perfect place for quiet reflection, and I have had a number of new insights during my stay. This has enriched my interpretations of these drinking vessels in ways I could not have anticipated when I applied. In particular, I have been able to find patterns in the manner in which these vessels were discarded that have changed the way I understand how Chacoans viewed the jars.

Patricia Crown
Rashmi Sadana, also a Weatherhead fellow, finished a book manuscript on the Delhi Metro. “Now, after being here for the year, I know that what makes SAR is not just the lovely location, but also and especially, the people, from the permanent and senior scholars to the staff. They were all central to my time here.” Equally important was the setting:
Rashmi Sadana

In addition to all the great museums (starting on the SAR campus at the IARC), events, and restaurants, I walked in town or hiked on nearby trails most days, and I’m convinced all the fresh air and amazing views were good for my writing brain. I was also able to take a few weekend trips in the state with my family. That I could be here with them also made this year work for me in a profound way. I really have to thank you for the warm and sustained welcome SAR gave not only to me but to them as well. It has been a wonderful, enriching year for all of us.

As for her colleagues, Sadana says, “We have had lively intellectual exchanges throughout the year, across disciplines. But most of all, I have felt a real sense of camaraderie with them and intellectual support from them. This has continued even after the campus had to close because of Covid-19.”

SAR’s other Mellon fellow and historian of the Chihuahuan Desert, C. J. Alvarez, reflects on his time at SAR “with mixed emotions and a divided mind.”

On one hand, I can say that, without a doubt, my year at the School for Advanced Research has been the highlight of my entire career. On the other, a great sadness has come to the world during my time here, and as my days in Santa Fe wind down, the stranglehold of the virus grows stronger. The contrast between the peace of mind afforded by residency at SAR and the tumultuousness of the world outside could not be more stark.

C.J. Alvarez
C. J. Alvarez, Patricia Crown, Davina Two Bears, and Rashmi Sadana at Chaco Canyon in June.

Alvarez describes his time at SAR, especially during the pandemic, as forging an unexpected level of connection between the fellows, one that they seem unlikely to ever forget.

The vision of SAR is to be an institution that “fosters understanding of humankind through scholarly and artistic creativity,” and this is what our fellowship with one another embodied in the fullest sense. In our long exchanges, we drew on both our research and the details of our own lives to try to make sense of what the pandemic has done to our species, and we speculated about what we might be able to learn from it. In those many hours, life felt less like a lockdown and more like the most advanced seminar I have ever attended. Like everyone else, I look forward to the day when the virus has been put behind us somehow. But in the here and now, I am grateful for the opportunity it has inadvertently presented in this special place.