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Indigenous Studies

Indigenous knowledge, practices, belief systems, and ways of being in the world move within and across humanistic, social scientific, and scientific divides. More than just a cross-disciplinary field, Indigenous Studies is a methodological framework that asks the fundamental question “Where are we?” and grounds its research in the protocols of acknowledging place and the researcher’s position. As a student in the Indigenous Studies research cluster, you will develop disciplinary expertise in your home departments while also working through and across diverse ways of knowing – ultimately, perhaps, challenging the very definitions of your primary disciplinary framework.

Areas of Study

Students in this cohort will come from a variety of doctoral programs and collaborate with each other and with faculty mentors on a variety of possible overlapping themes, such as visual and material cultures; ecology, resiliency and adaptation; and historical perspectives and cultural heritage. For example, you might join existing research initiatives or propose your own projects related to Indigenous data collection, curation, and sovereignty in partnership with anthropologists, data scientists and UVA librarians. You might explore Indigenous arts, languages, and landscapes with linguists, art historians, musicologists and curators at the University’s Fralin Museum of Art and Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Aboriginal Art. You might focus on Indigenous science, technology, and sustainability with faculty in Architecture and Spanish languages and cultures and members of the Charlottesville community. By working within and across these kinds of themes through coursework, conference presentations, co-authorship, and informal mentoring, graduate student researchers will help to develop new collaborative projects with faculty and community members.

Mentoring Plan and Resources

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Research Methods and Ethics: Theory and Application

During their first year, students in the cohort will take a three-credit course introducing them to Indigenous Studies and outlining the major methodologies used by scholars in the field. A one-credit lab practicum, led by experts from the UVA Library, will familiarize students with the historiographic, theoretical and interpretive methods that have shaped the field of Indigenous Studies.

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Internships and Research Opportunities

Fellows will have the opportunity to conduct independent research and co-author with faculty on research in projects sponsored by the Mapping Indigenous World Lab, the Spatial Technologies Lab in Anthropology, Race, Religion, and Democracy Lab, relevant labs in the Institute of Global Humanities and Cultures, and Rare Book School’s Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Heritage. Fellows will be supported in their applications for internships at research and community outreach institutions like the Smithsonian (e.g., Mother Tongue Film Festival, National Museum of the American Indian, National Museum of Natural History), Fralin Museum of Art (supervising undergraduate interns in the Museum Internship Program), Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, and the Library of Congress. This will give fellows the opportunity to expand their own research interests and build professional networks.

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Monthly Brown-Bag Lunches

In coordination with the Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation, fellows in the cohort will organize informal brown-bag lunches with presentations by graduate students, faculty, and community leaders. Faculty will work with graduate fellows to identify key people to invite for student presentations. The topics will vary, and faculty from other universities, research institutions, and Indigenous communities will be invited from Virginia, the US, and overseas.

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Conference Travel

In order to foment research and professional engagement, fellows will receive funds to present in conferences at least twice during their fellowship.

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Academic Symposia

Fellows will organize a set of graduate student conferences at UVA. The topics will vary and will be organized in coordination with the faculty mentors. Fellows will determine if their events are public-facing, academic, or a combination of the two. It is expected that the cohort will organize at least two events during the fellowship. These events will provide fellows with the opportunity to disseminate their own research, as well as gain experience in conference organization and events management as part of their professional development.