Interests: Collaborative and Public Anthropology; Indigenous Rights and Representation; Contemporary Indigeneity and Settler Colonialism; Anthropology of Expertise; Anthropology of Media and Cultural Production; Anthropology of Museums; Critical Museology; Ethics and Decolonizing Methodologies; NAGPRA and Repatriation; Museum Collections Research and Exhibit Making; Digital Cultural Heritage; Oral History and Ethnohistory; Community Engaged Comics; Science Communication; Native North America. Skills: Community outreach; Collaboration with Native Nations; Communicating research to the public; Scholarly and archival research; Collaborative and qualitative research design and implementation; Collective leadership; Project management; Media production; Grant writing.
Associate Professor and Curator
As an Associate Professor and a Curator of Cultural Anthropology, I conduct ethnographic fieldwork as well as museum collections research, work on exhibits and collaborative projects in the museum, and teach courses in the Museum and Field Studies program and in the Department of Anthropology. My research focuses on changing museum practices and disrupting dominant historical and contemporary narratives through collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
I joined the CU Department of Anthropology and the CU Museum of Natural History in August of 2009. I worked as a Lead Researcher in the Curatorial department at the National Museum of the American Indian before earning a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology at Cornell University. My interests further developed as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia’s department of Anthropology, which is associated with the UBC Museum of Anthropology—a public museum well know for its collaborative methods in exhibits, repatriation, and online partnerships with First Nations; student engagement; and, experimental forms of display.
In Our Lives: Collaboration, Native Voice, and the Making of the National Museum of the American Indian (2014), I document the process of “community curating” the inaugural exhibitions at the NMAI from the museum professional and Indigenous communities’ perspectives. Find out more here.
Principles that guide my research include reciprocity and respect. At the core of my work is a commitment to facilitating and disseminating more diverse and inclusive understandings of history and contemporary lives, particularly through collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
My research includes connecting Native Nations to museum collections through NAGPRA consultations, co-directed research projects and exhibits, digitizing tangible and intangible heritage, the development of online access to collections, and oral history projects. Find out more here.
Through my research and professional work I have had the opportunity to work with diverse Indigenous peoples, including: the Chicago urban Indian community; the Navajo Nation; the Inuit community of Igloolik in Nunavut; the Australian Aboriginal community in Townsville; the Paiwan tribe on the island of Taiwan; the Kalinago of Dominica in the West Indies; and, most recently, the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation and the Campo Kumeyaay Nation.
We include students – graduate and undergraduate, from anthropology, museum studies, and film studies - at every level of our research and work here in the museum and in the field. This is one of the wonderful benefits of working in a teaching museum. Find out more here.
Anthropology is the study of what makes us human--from long ago to now. There are four main subfields: Biological Anthropology, Archaeology, Linguistic Anthropology, and Cultural Anthropology. Cultural anthropologists explore how people in different places live and understand the world around them. Find out more from the American Anthropological Association.
I am a cultural anthropologist who practices collaborative anthropology. I advocate that anthropological research, in the museum and in the field, be co-directed by and relevant to the communities with whom we work. Central to collaborative anthropology is a commitment to building trust, respecting other ways of knowing, and practicing reciprocity. Research should not only be disseminated to our discipline, but also made accessible to these communities and the wider public. My research engages with Indigenous peoples; their demands, activism, and participation have helped shape my practice and moved collaborative anthropology to the center of our discipline in North America. Collaborative anthropology is not only with and for Indigenous peoples, but they have been key in shaping its development and prominence in our field. It can be practiced anywhere with anyone. Collaborative anthropology, and shared authority, often means our research takes unexpected turns-- resulting in my working on things I would never have anticipated... like leading video workshops and co-authoring a comic book!
I also advocate for and practice public anthropology--sharing what we learn through research beyond the academy, including with the communities with whom we work and the wider public. My hope is that increasing access to anthropological research in public discourse will result in increased empathy and more complex understandings of the world around us and the times in which we live. I communicate anthropology with the public through co-hosting SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human, co-producing two comics series, teaching a class about public anthropology, and creating exhibits in our public museum.
Museum anthropology includes anthropology of museums and anthropology in museums. For example, as a cultural anthropologist I conduct scholarly research about museums as institutions of power and publish about community-based research and repatriation, and as a curator I conduct research about anthropology collections for originating communities and to create exhibits. In my museum anthropology work, I am committed to decolonizing museum practices (specifically curation, collections management, and interpretation) and supporting the health and well-being of originating communities.
CU Cultural Anthropology
CU Museum, Anthropology Section
Public Engagement Fellow (2021-2022)
Executive Board Member (2015-16 & 2019-2022),
CU Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies
Steering Committee Member (2020-2022),
CU Center to Advance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences
Board Member (2019-2022),
CU Center of the American West
Advisory Board Member (2020-2021),
CU Center for Research Data and Digital Scholarship
Board Member (2014-2017),
American Anthropological Association Council for Museum Anthropology
Center of the American West
Department of Ethnic Studies