Assistant Professor of Native American and Environmental Studies
Smith was a visiting instructor in Anthropology at Wheaton College, MA in the Fall 2014. From 2015-2016, she was the Scholar-in-Residence Fellow in the American Studies Program at Carleton College and she continued as a visiting instructor in that program for winter and spring 2017 before joining CSI in the fall of 2017.
Broadly, Smith’s research interests include indigenous decolonization and revitalization, especially in New England; indigenous-settler relations past, present, and future; and the politics of knowledge production in settler colonial societies. Her most recent work focuses on the place, history, and memory of the Wabanaki village at Nanrantsouak on the upper Kennebec River in Maine. In this work, she considers how Wabanaki story, memory, and kinship to this place serve as resistance to settler colonial productions of history and memory that have narrated this place as the “end” of the Wabanaki in this area and enact new possibilities for the future. Her work is grounded in community and land. She is an advocate of research community-engaged, community directed, and collaborative on-the-ground learning.
Smith’s teaching interests include decolonizing U.S. lands and histories; indigenous New England, histories of Indian-settler relations; American Indian lands and sovereignties; indigenous environmental activism; indigenous ways of knowing; place and memory in social theory; structures of social inequality; and ethnographic methods.
"Everything you know about Indians is wrong."- Paul Chaat Smith. This interdisciplinary course offers an introduction to important topics in the field of Native American Studies. We will examine history, literature, art, politics, and current events to explore the complex relationship between historical and contemporary issues that indigenous peoples face in North America, with a focus on the United States. We will pay particular attention to the creative ways that indigenous communities have remained vibrant in the face of ongoing colonial struggle. Topics include histories of Indian-settler relations, American Indian sovereignty, Indigenous ecological knowledge practices, American Indian philosophical and literary traditions, and American Indian activism.
Places and our attachments to them are a profound part of human experience. We imbue places with layers of cultural meaning and these places shape us, as both individuals and groups. How we make and relate to places, is also shaped by our cultural and social contexts. Place-making and place-meaning are about sharing experiences through stories. Place, then, is an excellent way to develop skills for ethnographic storytelling. In this course, we will examine place as an aspect of human cultural and social life as a way to develop skills for writing ethnography. We will begin building a toolkit of methods for understanding place in human societies and cultures. We will critically engage historical and contemporary ethnographic accounts of place and place-making around the globe. Students will use these experiences to develop their own ethnographic craft through exercises and projects, culminating in creative ethnographic final projects.