‘Who Owns the Past?’ Kicks Off Montgomery 2021-2022 Season

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This year’s luminaries include writers, artists, and archaeologists.

Banners in Dartmouth Library's Baker-Berry Library promote the fall Montgomery Fellows series, "Who Owns the Past."
Banners in Dartmouth Library’s Baker-Berry Library promote the fall Montgomery Fellows series, “Who Owns the Past?” (Photo by Robert Gill)

The Montgomery Fellows Program is back with a bang, including, this fall, five leading archaeologists who will engage the campus around the question “Who Owns the Past?”—exploring the fraught ethics, history, and politics of ancient artifacts in the modern world, from Indigenous rights to the looting of archaeological sites in the Middle East.

The fall fellows will each be in residence for two weeks in conjunction with a course by the same name, co-taught by Assistant Professor of Classics Julie Hruby and Professor of Anthropology Jesse Casana, as well as other undergraduate courses. Each will also give a public lecture and engage with a variety of faculty and student groups on campus, including the interdisciplinary Archaeology Working Group and the Native American Program.

“We have had anthropologists and archaeologists on campus as Montgomery Fellows in the past, but this is the first time we’re going to have five of them in a term,” says Hruby. “My department—classics—and the anthropology department are planning to take full advantage of them. It’s exciting.”

The fall Montgomery Fellows include:

  • Joe Watkins, designated campus colleague, University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology, and past president of the Society for American Archaeology. Public lecture: “Co-opting the Past, Re-creating the Present: Politics and Archaeology,” 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, at Filene Auditorium in Moore Hall.
  • Patty Gerstenblith, distinguished research professor, DePaul University College of Law. Public lecture: “Imperialism, Colonialism, Archaeology, and the ‘Universal’ Museum,” Oct. 5.
  • Salima Ikram, the Distinguished Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo. Public lecture (via webcast): “Displaying Egypt in Egypt: A Brief Overview of Museums in Egypt,” Oct. 12.
  • Brian Rose, the James B. Pritchard Professor of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Pennsylvania and president of the American Research Institute in Turkey. Public lecture: “Archaeology, Museums, and War: Strategies for the 21st Century,” Nov. 2.
  • Charles Musiba, associate professor of anthropology, University of Denver. Public lecture: “Conservation of the Laetoli Footprints: What Went Wrong?” Nov. 9.

The Montgomery program will post event locations and up-to-date information.

Over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year, nearly a dozen fellows will be in residence, and each term will feature multiple fellows whose work centers around a common theme, says Montgomery Director Steve Swayne.

“Our vision is to more closely integrate Montgomery Fellows with the curriculum and to spur a sense of intellectual synergy on campus,” Swayne says. Fellows will visit undergraduate courses and participate in other programs on campus, from the Hood Museum of Art to the house communities.

In the winter, Montgomery will be hosting “A Celebration of Making,” featuring three master crafters: jewelry-maker Marilyn da Silva, who will be in residence Jan. 6-21, 2022; furniture-maker Michael Hurwitz (Jan. 24-Feb. 4); and ceramicist Diego Romero (Feb. 7-18). The three will also be on campus together at the beginning and end of the term (Jan. 3-5 and Feb. 21-23) to participate in panels and an installation of their work, among other planned events.

In the spring, Louise Erdrich ’76—author, most recently, of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Night Watchman and a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa—plans for her residence to overlap with the annual Dartmouth Powwow. Her visit will be one of a series of prominent authors Montgomery hopes to host that term. The focus on writers will continue in the summer, when National Book Award-winner Phil Klay ’05—who was a virtual fellow in summer 2020—returns to campus in person.

About the Montgomery Fellows Program

Established in 1977, the Montgomery Fellows Program brings distinguished visitors—scholars, artists, authors, historians, politicians, and more—to campus for residencies ranging from several days to an entire term. More than 230 fellows, including Yo-Yo Ma, Cornel West, Desmond Tutu, Joan Didion, and Gerald Ford, have taught, spent time creating new works and scholarship, delivered public lectures, and connected with students and the greater Dartmouth community.

Hannah Silverstein