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2021-2022 Faculty and Staff Highlights

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College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Highlights from the Faculty and Staff of the Department of Anthropology

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Alejandro Cerón, PhD

Alejandro Cerón came back from his sabbatical year in fall 2021. One of his priorities this year, was to incorporate community-engaged projects to enhance students’ learning in the classes he taught. For his First-Year Seminar “The Right to Health in Theory and Practice”, students volunteered at Casa de Paz, an organization serving people just released from the Aurora Immigration Detention Center. In “Ethnographic Methods”, in collaboration with Project Protect Food Systems Workers, students analyzed the narratives about agricultural workers that emerged in people’s testimonials against or in favor of an agricultural workers rights bill (SB-21-087) that became law in Colorado in June 2021. Students in “Research Methods in Anthropology” did interviews, analysis, and produced the report “Understanding Campus Environmental Sustainability: A Thematic Analysis of Interviews with Facilities Management Staff and Administrators at the University of Denver”, a project in collaboration with Geography Doctoral student Dinko Hanaan Dinko. In celebration of Anthropology Day in February, students in the “Capstone Seminar in Anthropology” visited DU’s Ricks Center for Gifted Children and introduced first-graders to anthropology by working with them on “centers” focusing on archaeological digging, evolution of hominids, and culture and storytelling. Finally, the almost sixty students who took the introductory course “The Social Determination of Health” did interviews, analysis, and created the report “Bringing People Back into Public Health Data: Community Feedback on a Set of Visualization Tools” for our community partner, an undisclosed public health organization in Colorado.

Alejandro’s scholarly work this year has developed in three directions. First, based on research he did during his sabbatical year, he wrote two articles, currently under review in academic journals, about social and environmental inequities in health. Second, he worked with professors Carlos Jimenez (Media, Film, and Journalism), and Lina Reznicek-Parrado (Spanish) to create paid internships for DU students and get the students involved in documenting Colorado’s hidden voices, a project supported by DU’s Center for Innovation in the Liberal and Creative Arts (CILCA), and DU’s Center for Immigration Policy and Research (CIPR). Lastly, Alejandro has continued the work of the DU Ethnography Lab (DUEL). This year, Alejandro also had the honor to work with CCESL as one of its Community Engagement Luminaries.

Bonnie Clark, PhD

This academic year found Bonnie enjoying a sabbatical focused on the anthropology of gardening. That focus ties both to a newly developed course of the same title and her research on the gardens of Amache, Colorado’s WWII era Japanese American incarceration camp. The time away from campus gave Bonnie a chance to develop garden-related connections and to prepare for and present a talk on Amache’s gardens for TEDx Mile High. This spring Bonnie was thrilled when the Amache National Historic Site Act passed, which means the site will soon become part of the National Park System. Its passage is a testimony to Amache’s strong preservation community, including DU undergraduate and graduate students who have contributed so much to its study and interpretation for over a decade. You can read Bonnie’s reflection on how community archaeology played a role in Amache transition to National Park status in this blog. After a 4 year hiatus, Bonnie and DU alumni Dr. April Kamp-Whittaker brought crews back to Amache for a fourth field school in historical archaeology and museum studies. Not only did the crews uncover amazing archaeological data, they also made great headway in processing new collections at the Amache museum. Crews were honored to share their work with hundreds of visitors to the field school’s community and public open house days.

Larry Conyers, PhD

Larry has been involved in Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) projects this year in New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, and Croatia.  He is under contract with Rowman and Littlefield Publishers to write a 4th edition of his book Ground-penetrating Radar for Archaeologists.  It will be substantially revised since the 3rd edition in 2013 to include new advances in three-dimensional analysis of the ground. He was the co-organizer of the 21st bi-annual international conference on ground-penetrating radar held in June in Colorado, which had more than 500 attendees from all over the world (including many DU graduates).

Kelly Fayard, PhD

This year, Professor Kelly Fayard has maintained a steady record of research and scholarship. She continues to work on her manuscript Fighting to Belong: Race, Kinship, and Community among the Poarch Band of Creek Indian. Her article “Back ‘Poarch’ Politics: States and Indigenous Sovereignty in Alabama” was published in a special issue of the Journal of the Anthropology of North America this year. Additionally, Professor Fayard contributed a chapter to the edited volume Fieldnotes: Raw and Unedited that will be published by University of Minnesota Press in the fall of 2023. She also was invited to participate and record an episode for the “Heritage Voices” podcast on repatriation and Poarch identity that aired in August 2022. “Decolonizing and Building Community” was published in The Academic′s Handbook, 4th ed, by Duke University Press in 2020.

Professor Fayard has been gaining national recognition of her work. Just over the past year, she has been invited to give presentations (virtual and in-person) at Indiana University, Florida International University, and the Field Museum in Chicago on a range of topics, including Indigenous scholars, and decolonizing the academy and reimagining the representation of Native America in the museum. These presentations not only raise her profile and standing in anthropology, Indigenous and museum studies, but also bring notoriety to our department and DU.

Nicole Herzog, PhD

Dr. Herzog has been busy both in the Paleodiet Lab on campus and working with community partners in projects across the arid west and beyond.  She and students continue to add information to the online ethnographic plants database. Alongside this, she and students worked on the project titled, “Plants Bridging People: Building a Role for Traditional Plant Use and Ethnobotany in Land Management.which included collecting archaeological artifacts for dietary analysis and participating in a workshop with Native elders and youth focused on traditional knowledge of native plants. Results from each of these activities formed the basis for a research symposium Dr. Herzog co-organized for the 34th Great Basin Archaeological Conference titled, “People, plants, and landscapes: Current research in the Intermountain West.” In other past diet research, Dr. Herzog published a research article with collaborators from the University of Utah titled “Morphometric Identification of Starch Granules from Archaeological Contexts: Diagnostic Characteristics of Seven Major Plant Families.” The article appears in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science and aims to expand methodological approaches to identifying past foodways in the archaeological record.

Dr. Herzog's book, With Grit and Determination, published in 2020, was highlighted in two full-length podcasts in which she and co-editor Suzy Eskenazi provided interviews about the book and the process. The first, aired on the Women In Archaeology Podcast in September 2021 and the second aired on the Preservation Technology Podcast in May 2022.

Finally, Dr. Herzog wrapped up a long-time research project related to ancient human diets. This project explores the role of fire in hominin food choice by using living primates, chimpanzees living in Senegal, as modern analogs. In April 2022 a manuscript with co-authors from Kristen Hawkes of University of Utah and Jill Pruetz from Texas State titled, “Investigating foundations for hominin fire exploitation: savanna-dwelling chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in fire-altered landscapes” was published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Christina Kreps, PhD

In addition to serving as department chair and the director of the Museum of Anthropology and Museum and Heritage Studies Program, one of the highlights of the last academic year for Christina was her work with staff and faculty from the School of Art and Art History on the “Art, Anthropology, and Museum Studies” project funded through a Dean’s Award for Interdisciplinary Studies (DAIS). The aim of the project has been to promote greater collaboration between the museum studies programs in art/art history and anthropology. Last year’s work culminated in the co-curation of the exhibit Future Fossils: Art and Anthropology of the Anthropocene, which consisted of two sister exhibitions. Students and faculty were invited to submit work that reflects on the concept of future fossils and the Anthropocene—the proposed name of the current geological epoch defined by humankind’s profound impact on the Earth’s ecosystems and atmosphere. The first exhibition featured student work shown in the Davis Gallery at the Shwayder Art Building from April 7 to May 5, which included Reshawn Edison’s (Anthropology 2022) jewelry piece “A Mode to Futuristic Thinking” as well as Kylie Dillinger’s (Anthropology 2020) 3-D printed replicas of Mesa Verde ceramics from the DUMA collection. Reshawn received a juror’s cash prize award for his piece, presented during the opening reception of the second exhibition featuring works by eight DU faculty artists.  In addition to the exhibitions, Christina co-taught the class, “Critical Perspectives in Museum Studies: Curating Across Art and Anthropology” with Jane Burke, adjunct professor and curator at the Denver Art Museum. This fall, Dr. Jami Powell, anthropology alum and now Curator of Indigenous Art at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth University, will return to DU to give a lecture and workshop as part of the DAIS project.

Last October, Christina was honored to have been invited to deliver the keynote address “The Role of Museums during the Pandemic: Steering Engagement towards Greater Inclusivity” (via Zoom) to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Museum Congress organized by the National Museum of the Philippines. October 24-25. Her presentation was revised for publication in the conference proceedings.

One of Christina’s book projects, The New Museum Anthropology and the Pragmatic Imagination co-edited with Christina Hodge, is currently in the pipeline for publication through Routledge. Along with her co-authorship of the Introduction, she also has contributed a chapter to the book titled “Missionaries, Anthropologists, Museums: Instrumentalism and Lessons for Progressive Museology” based on her early fieldwork on missionary museums in the Netherlands.

Dean Saitta, PhD

Dean Saitta, professor and director of the Urban Studies program, parlayed the success of his book Intercultural Urbanism: City Planning from the Ancient World to the Modern Day (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020) into a contract with Cambridge University Press for another book, titled Learning from Ancient Cities: A Comparative Perspective. The book will appear in 2023.

Dean continues his writing for Planetizen, a public interest urban planning website. His review of David Graeber and David Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity,  was one of Planetizen’s Top Ten blog posts of 2021, coming in at #9. Graeber and Wengrow’s book was far-and-away the most talked-about anthropology book of 2021.  Dean’s essay is called “Deep History, Ancient Wisdom, and Modern Planning” and is available on the Planetizen site

In October 2021 Dean was honored to deliver the American Institute of Archaeology’s annual Graham Lecture. Ernest R. Graham (1866-1936) was a prominent Chicago architect. He was Daniel Burnham’s principal assistant in overseeing the construction of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, an event of great significance in the histories of both Anthropology and Urban Studies. The Graham Lecture is endowed by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Fine Arts. One Graham Lecturer is selected by the AIA Lecture Program Committee each year. Dean’s topic was “The Ancient City: Lessons for a Modern Age.”

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