The Jackson School of International Studies welcomed the opportunity to co-host the University of Washington’s inaugural Summer Institute on Global Indigeneities which brought together Ph.D. students and faculty in the humanities and social sciences from UW and other academic institutions for collaboration on the underrepresented field of Indigenous scholarship.
The 2016 Summer Institute on Global Indigeneities, held from June 20-24, is a pilot program for what is hoped to become an annual meeting of junior and senior scholars in the interdisciplinary and global field of Indigenous and Native Studies.
Known as SIGI, the Institute aims to give guidance and structure for the development of dissertation proposals and provide an opportunity to create a working and sustainable inter-institutional network. SIGI activities and initiative offer the promise of training a new generation of scholars who can see issues of indigeneity in new ways.
For its launch, the Jackson School, along with UW’s Graduate School and Simpson Center for the Humanities, selected 12 SIGI Graduate Fellows, out of whom five were UW students from the philosophy, anthropology, English, history and drama departments, respectively.
Other Fellows and faculty came from the Universities of California (Los Angeles), British Columbia (Vancouver), Hawai‘i (Manoa), Minnesota (Twin Cities) and Oregon. UW-affiliated faculty included the Jackson School, Graduate School, American Indian Studies, Anthropology, Art History, the Burke Museum, Comparative History of Ideas and History.
The group participated in workshops ranging from navigating a career in academia to framing, narrating and publishing scholarly work, to field trips to the tribal area of Suquamish and throughout further defined their dissertation theses. The closing ceremony of the Institute culminated in a day-long presentation to the public about their research topics.
In his presentation to Institute faculty and graduate fellows, as well as other members of the UW community, UW Drama Ph.D. Student Robert Wighs explored tensions in cross-cultural theater collaboration and production: “Why are non-indegenous and indigenous communities choosing not to collaborate?” he asked. He spoke about his research, ranging from looking at Western frameworks in stage performance to bi-lingual productions and translations.
Another Ph.D. student, Angela L. Robinson, from University of California at Los Angeles, presented her research on Indigenous Performance in Oceania: Affect, Sociality and Sovereignty” and post-colonial nations.
Research ranged from community-building labor and place-making tactics of White Earth Ojibwe women in Minneapolis, Indigenous politics and group identity to Indigenous and Native American [drama] performance and sociocultural studies in education.
In recent years, there has been considerable momentum regarding Native and Indigenous Studies at the University of Washington.UW is located on borderlands shaped not only by states and economic forces, but also by Native peoples, migrants, ecological systems, oceans, mountains, and other forces to which area studies has been remarkably inattentive.