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ARSC 1492 (Ramirez): Shannon

Jen Shannon

Jen ShannonVivo  Website Email

Scholar Introduction: 

Professor Jen Shannon is a Curator and Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Professor Shannon joined the CU Department of Anthropology and the CU Museum of Natural History in August of 2009. As an Assistant Professor and a Curator of Cultural Anthropology, she conducts ethnographic fieldwork as well as object collections research, work on exhibits and collaborative projects in the museum, and teaches courses in the Museum and Field Studies program and in the Department of Anthropology. She 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 in 2008.

She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia’s department of Anthropology from 2008 to 2009. Her research focuses on collaborative practice and connecting tribes 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. Prof. Shannon is an Executive Board Member for the CU Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies and the American Anthropological Association Council for Museum Anthropology. She was also a former co-editor for the Journal of Museum Anthropology and the Museum Anthropology blog.

Challenge & Exploration

This presentation draws on work with the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara (MHA) Nation on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. My Cry Gets up to my Throat (2014) shows how we make sense of the present through our experiences of the past. In this case, through the lens of the life story of the beloved missionary Rev. Case, we learn how the US government dammed the Missouri River forcing them to relocate away from their homelands in 1953. Elders mainly discuss that historical period and then briefly, at the end, compare it to the oil boom today (the focus of the next stage of research with the community).  The video was developed in partnership with MHA community members, Rev. Case's family members, CU faculty, and CU graduate and undergraduate students. After reviewing and providing final approval for this documentary to be shown publicly in November 2014, community members have asked us to produce a second documentary, a part two that looks at the contemporary situation and focuses on everyday life in the oil boom – from the perspective of MHA Community members as well as the oil workers living on their reservation lands.  This presentation will describe the partnership building and ethnographic methods we used to do this work, which has been ongoing for four years.

Question: How can we design and conduct research that is both scholarly and relevant and meaningful to the communities with whom we work?

In responding to this question, begin by identifying a community that you are a part and considering these questions:

  • What issue or topic might scholars “study” pertaining to your community?
  • How might research on this issue be designed in ways that would be participatory and inter-active for the community itself?
  • How might research on this issue be designed to be relevant and meaningful to the community being “studied?”
  • How might research on this issue be conducted that would NOT be relevant or meaningful to the community being studied?

In responding to the challenge question, draw from this thought-exploration as well as Prof. Shannon’s presentation and article (posted on D2L).

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