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Sean Teuton

Katrin H. Lamon Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Assistant Professor
Department of English and American Indian Studies Program
University of Wisconsin, Madison

PROJECT:

Cities of Refuge: American Indian Literary Internationalism

As early as the 11th century in southeastern North America, American Indian people from different groups established “peace towns.” “These ‘cities of refuge’ were founded on a philosophy of human rights, where the exiled could come for safety and a new life,” explains Sean Teuton, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, “but these places were also centers where people could share ideas across cultural differences.”

The cities were “internationalist,” Teuton maintains, in the sense that “they were cosmopolitan, where people from many Indian nations could trade not only in material goods, but in ideas as well.” In Cities of Refuge: American Indian Literary Internationalism, Teuton uses the peace town as a metaphor to frame his examination of the Indian experience of nationhood and internationalism, as expressed in Native literary forms from 1830 to the present.

This project responds to what Teuton calls “a need for an approach to Indian literature that encourages engagement among nations, with the goal of sharing knowledge and promoting global justice.” While he joins the debate among scholars about exactly what constitutes a “nation,” Teuton places in the foreground the chronic misunderstanding that Americans have about the sovereign status of Native nations.

“From the very beginning of early contact with European countries, Indian people wanted to be considered not an ethnic group, but a people or a nation—in the sense that they had the capacity to govern themselves,” Teuton says. Cities of Refuge traces how American Indian intellectuals developed and defended their nationhood in literary genres including testimony, letter, polemic, autobiography, and novel. He is particularly interested in Native legal thought concerning, for instance, the 1830 Removal Act and the 1887 Allotment Act, as well as the collaborative language created in hundreds of treaties with the United States, in which a nation-to-nation relationship was recognized and even celebrated.

“I’m less interested in proving the existence of Indian nations than I am in examining how Native people in the 19th century thought of themselves as citizens,” Teuton says. “The recognition of cultural ‘others’ as human beings with rational thoughts, histories—and nations—is something Indian people have struggled to achieve from the U.S. for centuries.”

Marina Welker

Weatherhead Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Ph.D. Candidate
Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

PROJECT:

Global Capitalism and the ‘Caring Corporation’: Copper Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility in Indonesia

The “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) movement has become an industry in its own right over the last decade through new executive-training programs, professional organizations, journals, and consultants, all devoted, ostensibly, to creating better “corporate citizens.” Although multinational companies implementing CSR policies sounds like a positive development, Marina Welker’s research reveals a complex and often surprising reality.

Welker’s dissertation, “Global Capitalism and the ‘Caring Corporation’: Copper Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility in Indonesia,” examines how CSR is used by Newmont Mining Corporation in its Batu Hijau mine on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia. Although CSR policies encourage the company to be more responsive to the needs of rural villagers on the predominantly Muslim island, Welker finds that CSR is also used as “a strategy for protecting a $2 billion fixed capital investment from social risks.”

Caught between “stakeholders” including advocacy organizations (also transnational in scope), governments, lending institutions, and their own shareholders, multinational corporations such as Newmont have appropriated CSR as an extension of corporate knowledge and power, Welker argues. At the same time, the various stakeholders seeking to influence the company have divergent ideas about what constitutes “socially responsible” corporate behavior. Welker asks how CSR experts produce knowledge of and exercise power over a complex social environment and what kinds of intended and unintended consequences result.

Welker points out that “morally compelling concepts such as transparency, accountability, governance, empowerment, participation, and sustainability are increasingly being used as a CSR resource to intervene in the behavior of local stakeholders and to ensure corporate survival.” For instance, Welker says that “in the name of ‘transparency,’ Newmont turns the tables by making strategic revelations about the activist NGOs in an attempt to sever their links with Subawan villagers.”

For 18 months, Welker conducted research in Indonesia, for the most part “living in the villages near the mine, participating in daily life and Newmont-sponsored activities.” She interviewed village leaders, Newmont staff, government officials, and representatives of non-governmental organizations. To complete the circle, Welker concluded her fieldwork at Newmont’s corporate headquarters in Denver, Colorado, where she “shadowed CSR experts in their everyday work.”

Laura E. Gómez

Weatherhead Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Professor of Law and Sociology
University of California
Los Angeles

PROJECT:

Manifest Destinies: Law and Race in the 19th Century Southwest

The westward growth of the United States in the 19th century is often described as a “series of purchases and annexations,” such as the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. However, this version of the national story is at odds with historical accuracy. “When we think of America’s westward expansion,” says Laura E. Gómez, “we think in terms of ‘annexation’ rather than colonization, of ‘opening’ rather than conquering, and of ‘settling’ unpopulated lands rather than displacing existing populations.”

This euphemistic picture reflects what Gómez calls our “collective amnesia” about the war with Mexico, which, in addition to significantly expanding U.S. borders, resulted in the inheritance of more than 140,000 Mexicans and Indians who lived in the region. In her book Manifest Destinies: Law and Race in the 19th Century Southwest, Gómez analyzes the resulting racial dynamics and how those complex relationships ultimately changed both the racial order of the Southwest and the nation as a whole. Trained in law and sociology at Stanford University, Gómez draws also on history and anthropology in framing her interdisciplinary approach to understanding these under-explored tensions.

Manifest Destinies spans the period from 1846 through the 1890s, when New Mexico was a U.S. territory under federal control. Gómez examines how Mexican elites positioned themselves as a wedge racial group between the Euro-American minority—who controlled the government, important economic enterprises, and the legal system—and the Indians, including established Pueblo communities and nomadic tribes. While law was “a crucial tool in the American colonization of New Mexico,” she argues that the courts and other legalized sites, such as the territorial legislature, were places where Mexicans (and, to a lesser extent, Pueblo Indians) leveraged power “to shape their destinies under a new sovereign.”

Gómez observes, “New Mexico emerges as the optimal site for exploring the clash of peoples in the 19th century Southwest because it is the product of what I term a double-colonization: the American colonization of the 19th century was grafted onto the Spanish colonization of previous centuries.”

Joseph Masco

National Endowment for the Humanities Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
University of Chicago

PROJECT:

The Nuclear Public Sphere: An Anthropology of U.S. National Security Discourse

After completing an analysis of the expert communities involved in building nuclear technologies (The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico, Princeton University Press), Joseph Masco was “really happy to start thinking about other things”—until the ramp-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The speed with which the government successfully rallied national support for the unprecedented pre-emptive military action was linked, Masco thought, to the legacy of what he calls “the Cold War security culture.”

For example, the image used by Administration officials to justify the invasion—“the smoking gun” of an Iraqi weapons program coming in the form of a “mushroom cloud”—explicitly deployed a kind of apocalyptic nuclear fear developed during the forty years of the Cold War arms race.

In his new book, The Nuclear Public Sphere, Masco argues that “the conception of the ‘nuclear danger’ has a specific genealogy in the United States, one that has been carefully crafted and formed across nearly a half century of Cold War state—and nation—building.” The cultural mechanisms created in the 1950s to shield the massive nuclear project from public scrutiny while urging citizens to build fall-out shelters and teach their children to “duck and cover” have found new applications in today’s “war on terror” and Department of Homeland Security.

Positioning his research at the intersection of American security culture and science studies, Masco has identified three goals: to analyze how nuclear fear in the U.S. has been negotiated from one generation to the next, to examine the nuclear archive now available to citizens and policymakers, and to assess the expert discourses of policy professionals now redefining how “weapons of mass destruction” are configured as part of the “war on terror.” Recently declassified films from the U.S. nuclear project and several new public history museums commemorating the Cold War are important subjects of his research.

“This project argues that the constitution of ‘terror’ is a political project with a specific geneaology, one that has been a defining aspect of the citizen-state relationship since 1945,” Masco says. “In an era of pre-emptive war, understanding the content, ideological construction, and contemporary meaning of the nuclear archive, and how it structures the possibilities of contemporary public debate, has never been more important.”

Jessica Winegar

National Endowment for the Humanities Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
Fordham University

PROJECT:

Claiming Egypt: The Politics of Making Art and Culture in the Middle East

Jessica Winegar often begins her presentations by asking audience members what image comes to mind when they think of Egyptian art. A moment later when a slide of King Tut’s mask flashes on the screen, a ripple of laughter fills the room. Ancient Pharaonic art such as the pyramids, the Sphinx, and King Tut’s mask bear little resemblance to the work of most contemporary visual artists in Egypt, but its strong images remain deeply etched in the minds of people around the world.

Today’s Egyptian artists struggle with attitudes from dealers, collectors, museums, and critics who expect contemporary Egyptian art to break new creative ground, yet continue to pay homage to the familiar ancient images that mark work as clearly—and comfortably—“Egyptian.”

This stylistic dilemma is only one of myriad conflicts debated constantly in the cafés, classrooms, and galleries of the Egyptian art world, and reflected in Winegar’s book Claiming Egypt: The Politics of Making Art and Culture in the Middle East. In nearly three years of field work, Winegar explored how contemporary art movements in Egypt reveal powerful connections between art and politics, conferred by the nation’s troubled history of colonialism, nationalism, socialism, and capitalism.

Claiming Egypt is the first academic book on an Arab art world. “People are surprised that there’s this whole art scene in Egypt that can tell us a great deal about contemporary struggles in the Middle East,” Winegar says. “Art reveals so much about social life in the region that we couldn’t get at in any other way. What is it like to have this history of socialism and colonialism, in a country now embracing capitalism? Artists, like most people in Egypt, want to maintain their cultural integrity while also being cosmopolitan.”

Winegar vividly describes individual artists’ lives in today’s Egypt to illustrate her anthropological study of the largest and oldest Arab art scene. “Social life in the Middle East is not reducible to the veil and terrorism,” Winegar observes. “Through its art, we can see Arabs and Muslims as people living everyday lives and doing creative things.”

Corinne A. Kratz

National Endowment for the Humanities Resident Scholar

Affiliation at time of award:
Co-director
Center for the Study of Public Scholarship
and Professor of Anthropology and African Studies
Emory University

PROJECT:

Looking for the Hairless Cow: Arranging Okiek Marriage

For Okiek people living the forested highlands of Narok District in Kenya, a wedding celebrates not only the union of bride and groom, but the culmination of complex marriage arrangements that sometimes span years. These inter-generational meetings, discussions, and negotiations between and within families are characterized by “artful argument and powerful performance,” often including emotional events and family intrigues such as elopements thwarted, husbands refused, and long-standing rifts resolved.

In Looking for the Hairless Cow: Arranging Okiek Marriage, Corinne Kratz will analyze the rich, textured discourse and performance of these marriage arrangements, and then embed them in social history. “The title uses an Okiek metaphor comparing brides (‘hairless cows’) to bride wealth cattle that cement family unions,” Kratz explains.

Her overall approach considers the multiple media of communication, the way events unfold, and the pauses, interruptions, and side comments often left out of analyses. “This study explores not only why people argue about marriage arrangement, but how they do so, in a politically charged setting.” Kratz is quick to note that these meetings are as often playful as tense, with not a little honey-wine and maize beer consumed.

During nearly 30 years of research with Okiek, Kratz witnessed the movement from hunting/gathering to farming and herding, saw changes in land tenure and demography, and observed the introduction of schools, roads, and shops. “Major life transitions like marriage provide critical moments where these changes are recognized, debated, and lived, as people negotiate divergent interests, uncertainties, and evolving situations,” Kratz observes. In discussions that reflect even national discourses and changes, the complex Okiek marriage arrangement protocol provides a microcosm of these broad evolving interconnections—as well as changing notions of personhood and identity—and how they affect individual lives.

“When combined with my earlier book on Okiek initiation (Affecting Performance: Meaning, Movement, and Experience in Okiek Women’s Initiation, Smithsonian Institution Press), this book will create an unprecedented body of work that documents a cohort of young women over two decades of pivotal life changes and profound socio-historical shifts. Further, it will analyze the ways Okiek produce and understand these changes in relation to wider social and historical processes.”