Supported by the Mellon Foundation “Humanities for All Times” initiative.

“Rethinking Place: Bard-on-Mahicantuck” is a three year project which proposes a Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) approach to a revitalized American Studies curriculum and undertakes an expansive understanding of land acknowledgment that goes beyond addressing a single institution’s history in regards to Native peoples. Supported by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project will frame annual conferences, reading groups, workshops, and foster collaboration between faculty and students within Bard and across regional peer liberal arts colleges. Rethinking Place emphasizes broad community-based knowledge, collaboration, and collectives of inquiry and also attends to the importance of considering the Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, whose homelands Bard is in. Bard College is also fortunate to count Vine Deloria Sr. (Yankton Dakota/Standing Rock Sioux) among Bard’s distinguished alumni and the Rethinking Place project and interdivisional American Studies are proud to honor the interdisciplinary intellectual legacy of Deloria Sr. and his family.

At its core, Rethinking Place: Bard-on-Mahicantuck asks: What would it look like to truly acknowledge the land beneath us, its history, and to collaborate with its continuing stewards? It affirms Bard’s tangible commitments to the principles and ideals of the College’s 2020 land acknowledgment by recognizing the need to address historical erasure and make space for marginalized epistemologies. Rethinking Place’s proposed curriculum and programming takes the acknowledgment of the land—and the brutal history which has unfolded on it—and offers a new way to approach this work that emphasizes inclusivity in order to build a future that is fundamentally distinct from this past. Each year, Rethinking Place will feature articulated NAIS themes and frames in which faculty, students, and staff can begin thinking in interdisciplinary terms and will engage the following five components: curriculum development, annual conferences, conference workshops, collaborative signage and mapping projects, and post-doctoral program-building. In order to hold Native concerns at the forefront of this work, the project team is in conversation with the Cultural Affairs Department of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.

Led by a diverse, interdisciplinary project team, Rethinking Place is being developed through Bard’s American Studies Program. Core members of Bard’s project team include: Associate Professor of History and Dean of Graduate Studies Christian Ayne Crouch (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor of Literature and Director of American Studies Peter L’Official (Project Coordinator), Associate Professor and Director of Environmental and Urban Studies Elias Dueker, Artist in Residence and Codirector of the Center for Experimental Humanities Krista Caballero, and Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies and master barber Joshua Livingston. Grant projects will also take place in collaboration with Bard’s Center for Experimental Humanities, Center for Human Rights and the Arts, and the Center for Environmental Sciences and Humanities, with faculty partners at Vassar College and Williams College, and, pending the permission of the Cultural Affairs Department and Tribal Council, with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.

This generous Mellon grant offers Bard the opportunity to contribute in innovative ways to the field of American Studies and in humanities fields more generally, and therefore increase broad and diverse enrollment in the humanities—particularly among members of communities marginalized by certain disciplines—and to restore humanities as a central component to the future of higher education and social justice. The Rethinking Place grant is part of the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities for All Times Initiative, created to support newly developed curricula that both instruct students in methods of humanities practice and demonstrate those methods’ relevance to broader social justice pursuits. to be used over a three-year period to support the envisioned curricular projects and help students to see and experience the applicability of humanities in their real-world social justice objectives. More information about the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities for All Times Initiative can be found here.

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