We are excited to announce that MACS graduate student Jenna Winton ’17 has received the Graduate-level Julia Rogers Research Prize for her paper entitled “The Impact of the ‘Vanishing’ Image on Indigenous Communities,” written for Introduction to Cultural Sustainability.
In this paper, Winton explores the disservice done to indigenous populations by portraying them as vanishing. Her research draws upon a variety of sources, especially exhibitions, the media, and websites of indigenous activist groups, to interrogate the public’s curiosity with the ‘vanishing’ myth. Whereas, advocates might find this portrayal useful in garnering support for environmental or cultural sustainability work, Winton questions the use of such an iconic image to prove a point.
Wouldn’t it be better, she suggests, to draw upon the vibrant and thriving ancient ways of knowing and being on the planet to address environmental questions? How might that knowledge actually inform the work of such advocates, including documentary ethnographers and filmmakers? Rather than portraying vanishing cultures as the reason to change our consumer culture behaviors, could we draw upon the wisdom of those cultures to create real cultural change?
Of particular importance in Winton’s research is the attention she pays to ethical and relevant action as a result of her research. She is not interested in, nor does she believe it is appropriate to expose the vitality of all indigenous communities. There are some that prefer the peace and cultural continuity afforded by anonymity. Rather, she is solely interested in working with communities who have already embraced contemporary culture and are active and interested in outside media resources. These communities demonstrate the antithesis of the “vanishing Indian” and provide an opportunity to examine how the next generation is adapting and evolving their traditions to remain relevant in their cultures?
Jenna’s annotated bibliography reinforced the committee’s appreciation of her thoughtful use of integrating diverse resources into her arguments.
Jenna’s paper, and those of the other winners, may be seen in eScholarship@Goucher at mdsoar.org.
The Julia Rogers Research Prizes were first offered in 2004, in honor of Julia Rogers’ 150th birthday. The Goucher College Library and The Friends of the Goucher College Library sponsor this annual research prize competition for outstanding research by Goucher students using library resources.
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Goucher's Master of Arts in Cultural Sustainability is a completely unique new program. We teach our students how to work closely with individuals and communities to identify, protect, and enhance their important traditions, their ways of life, their cherished spaces, and their vital relationships to each other and the world.