2020-2021 Faculty and Staff Highlights
Highlights from the Faculty and Staff of the Department of Anthropology
Anne Amati, NAGPRA coordinator and registrar for the Museum of Anthropology, received a National Leadership Grant for Museums from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to create a NAGPRA Community of Practice. This network of practitioners is for all people engaged in or interested in implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
The project kicked off with a summit of 24 museum professionals engaged in NAGPRA work in March 2019. The goal of the summit was to identify issues affecting NAGPRA implementation in museums and brainstorm ways to impact those issues. In preparation for the summit, we conducted a nation-wide survey to collect information on the current state of NAGPRA implementation in museums and identify needs for the future. Survey results and summit discussions helped guide the activities of the NAGPRA Community of Practice, such as hosting bi-monthly video calls, creating a directory of NAGPRA practitioners, and sharing documents and resources.
In October 2020 the Museum of Anthropology co-hosted the 6th Annual Repatriation Conference with the Association on American Indian Affairs. The conference was all virtual with over 700 registered attendees. The post-conference survey revealed that the conference was particularly successful in exposing attendees to new ideas and in creating a sense of community.
In January of 2021, a ten person steering committee was formed to ensure the sustainability of the NAGPRA Community of Practice after the end of the grant period. The steering committee recently drafted a mission statement and vision statement to help guide activities and goals.
The project is nearing the end of the third year of this three year project, but the grant period has recently been extended to September 2022. Additionally, DUMA recently received a $57,000 award from the National Park Service to support scholarships for the 2021 Repatriation Conference.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss the NAGPRA Community of Practice, you can reach Anne at email@example.com.
Alejandro Cerón, PhD
Alejandro Cerón joined the Department of Anthropology in 2013. He is a sociocultural anthropologist interested in the intersections of public health practice and the notion of health as a human right, which draw from his years of experience working in public health in Guatemala. His publications include a book based on his dissertation, Neocolonial Epidemiology: Public Health Practice and the Right to Health in Guatemala (AVANCSO, 2018).
The classes he teaches focus on health, applied anthropology or ethnographic methods, where he tries to incorporate experiential learning and community-engaged projects. Over the past few years, he has been conducting ethnographic research about a form of chronic kidney disease in Guatemala of non-traditional causes mainly affecting agricultural communities. Last year, he collaborated with colleagues in Guatemala to help create and disseminate information about COVID-19 aimed at rural communities.
He has also been one of the driving forces in the creation of the DU Ethnography Lab (DUEL) a catalyst for collaborations among faculty, students and the broader community. Through DUEL, he has collaborated with colleagues in the Departments of Anthropology, Spanish, Media Film and Journalism, Geography, and the Writing Program, creating opportunities for students in the classroom and beyond, with some students taking on research assistantships, and internships that deepen their experiential and community-engaged work at DU. One of the community collaborations that has been very productive has been with Project Protect Food Systems Workers, a coalition advocating for agricultural workers rights in Colorado.
Bonnie Clark, PhD
Bonnie J. Clark, professor of anthropology, recently published her book Finding Solace in the Soil: The Archaeology of Gardens and Gardeners at Amache. This book tells the largely unknown story of gardens created by Japanese Americans behind the barbed wire of Amache, Colorado. The book draws from six years of community-engaged archaeological research performed by DU graduate and undergraduate students working together with Amache survivors and descendants and local residents of Granada, Colorado. Between 1942 and 1945, they applied their horticultural expertise to the difficult high plains landscape of southeastern Colorado. At Amache they worked to form microclimates, reduce blowing sand, grow better food, and achieve stability and preserve community at a time of dehumanizing dispossession.
In this book, Clark examines botanical data like seeds, garden-related artifacts and other material evidence found at Amache, as well as oral histories from survivors and archival data including personal letters and government records, to recount how the prisoners of Amache transformed the harsh military setting of the camp into something resembling a town. She discusses the varieties of gardens found at the site, their place within Japanese and Japanese American horticultural traditions, and innovations brought about by the creative use of limited camp resources. The gardens of Amache are repositories of generational knowledge where a philosophical stance towards nature was made manifest through innovation and horticultural skill.
If you are interested in learning more, you can read a short interview about the book or watch a 36-minute video of an illustrated book talk.
Larry Conyers, PhD
Larry Conyers led a three month long advanced ground-penetrating radar (GPR) workshop for archaeology last winter, with 28 participants from 17 different countries. It was very successful, and plans are underway to host it again this coming winter.
He has completed a book titled Georadar Aplicado en Geotecnia y Arqueología (in Spanish) with co-author Adolfo Martinez as a way to reach people who are native speakers interested in GPR in the second most common language in the world. It will be published in September.
In addition, he has just completed a “toolkit” and handbook on using GPR in Australia for a variety of buried sites in different geological settings (co-author Emma St. Pierre from Otago University, New Zealand). This book was commissioned by the Australian Government and will be published in October.
He was recently contracted by the Colville Confederated Tribes of Washington to teach GPR methods to Tribal scientists to address the possibility of un-marked graves on their land. This was prompted by the recent discovery (also with GPR) of many graves on Indian School lands in Canada. This is a multi-year endeavor and will begin in September.
Nicole Herzog, PhD
Nicole Herzog, one of our newest faculty members, has recently published a book titled With Grit and Determination highlighting the experience of female archaeologists focused on American and Great Basin archaeology.
Christina Kreps, PhD
Christina Kreps' book, Museum Anthropology in the Age of Engagement, published in 2020, critically examines the public role of museums and anthropology from an historical, international and cross-cultural perspective and is based on her research in the Netherlands, Indonesia, and the US over the past 30 years. It considers the changes that have taken place in museum anthropology and major trends such as the decolonization and indigenization of the field.
She also published the article “The Work of Culture, Heritage, and Musealized Spaces in ‘Unprecedented Times” in the journal Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 8 (2020): 102-110. Christina is currently working with co-editor Christina Hodge, Stanford University, on the volume Museum Anthropology and the Pragmatic Imagination under contract with Routledge.
In the spring of 2021, Christina received a Dean’s Award for Interdisciplinary Studies (DAIS) for the project “Art, Anthropology, and Museum Studies.” The aim of the project is to promote greater collaboration between the museum studies programs in art/art history and anthropology. Several workshops and symposia are planned for the 2021/22 and will culminate with a collaborative exhibition in the DUMA gallery. This is the second DAIS Christina and colleagues in the art school have received toward this effort.
In January, Christina met via zoom with the international research group on the four-year project: ”The Ontological Politics of Sámi Cultural Heritage” directed by Associate Professor Sanna Valkonen, University of Oulu, and funded by the Academy of Finland. She was also invited to be on the international steering group for the two-year project Renewing Relations: Indigenous Heritage Rights and (Re)conciliation in Northwest Coast Canada directed by Bryony Onciul, Associate Professor of Museology and Heritage Studies, University of Exeter, and funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Christina continues to co-edit the Routledge book series Museum Meanings with Professor Richard Sandell, University of Leicester. Since 2012, she and Sandell have shepherded the publication of some twenty volumes.
Dean Saitta, PhD
Dean Saitta, professor and director of the Urban Studies program, has published Intercultural Urbanism: City Planning from the Ancient World to the Modern Day (Zed Books/Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020). Michael E. Smith of Arizona State University says the following about the book: “This book is in the vanguard of efforts that use cities from the distant past to shed light on contemporary urban processes. It gives scholars, policy makers, students, and others interested in urbanism today much to think about.”
Excerpts from the book are published in Dean’s blog for Planetizen, a public interest urban planning website (in particular, see the essays “Anti-Racist Planning: A View from Elsewhere” and “Decolonizing the Settler City”). A presentation about the book invited by the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University (including audio, video, and transcript) is available at Shareable.