Sawyer Seminar Symposium. April 8-10, 2015
The Once and Future River:
Imagining the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change
April 8-10, 2015
The John E. Sawyer Seminar Spring Symposium.
Free & open to the public.
The Mississippi River is one of the best-known American landscapes, accessible through the writings of Mark Twain and imagery from painters and photographers for more than a century. Yet how well do we really know the river through these sources? Are these narrative and visual traditions adequate to understanding it in an era of climate change? What does it even mean to “know” or “understand” the Mississippi River?
The symposium “The Once and Future River: Imagining the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change” brings scholars from the humanities and social sciences into conversation with experts from the realm of river policy and management to explore the river as both a cultural and physical entity. Individual sessions will address numerous ways of defining the spatial and conceptual scope of the river, the ways artistic expression shapes—and is shaped by—the physical landscape, and what “resilience” and “sustainability” might mean for the river in the future.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015, at 7 pm
Best Buy Theater, Northrop.
Keynote: More than the Mississippi: the river as ‘here’
Jim Rock, incoming Program Director, Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Sharon Day, Executive Director, Indigenous People’s Task Force
Footage of this talk is not available.
Thursday, April 9, 8:30am-5:30pm
Jennifer Gunn, Director, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota
Karen Hanson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, University of Minnesota
9:30-11:30 River as Frame
From bdote to Ol’ Man River, the headwaters to the dead zone, the Mississippi River is defined according to human projects and practices at varying geographical and conceptual scales. What do these interpretations of the river highlight and what do they obscure? What are the implications of these frames in a future with unpredictable climate change?
Jennifer Browning, Bluestem Communications. “One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi: The River as a Connector of Cultures, Histories and Values”
Christopher Morris, History, University of Texas-Arlington. “Speaking of the Mississippi: America’s Great River in Words and Deeds”
Gwen Westerman, English and Humanities, Minnesota State University, Mankato. “Dakota Narratives of the Mississippi”
Discussant: Laurie Moberg, Sawyer Seminar Graduate Fellow, Anthropology, University of Minnesota
Crosby Seminar Room
12:30-1:15 River as Image: Movies
A screening and discussion of films and video relating to the Mississippi, curated by Works Progress Studio.
1:30-3:30 River as Place
The Mississippi River has inspired a range of individual and collective expression, including music, art, design, and storytelling. What can these cultural representations tell us about people’s relationship to, and experiences of, the river? How will these forms change in an era of climate change?
Richard Mizelle, History, University of Houston. “Mississippi River Blues and the Politics of Mobility”
Mona Smith, Dakota media artist, Allies: media/art and Healing Place Collaborative. “It’s All Relative”
Shanai Matteson, Works Progress Studio. “Creative Confluence: Place-based social practice & collaborative public art-making”
Discussant: Nenette Luarca-Shoaf, Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota
See also: Backwater Blues: Environmental Disaster and African American Experiences, March 31.
Best Buy Theater
4:00-5:30 IAS Thursdays at Four Panel: River as Water
The panel will explore the varying and complex ways the Mississippi River might be described as “resilient.” What contributions do scientific and indigenous perspectives make to this concept? How can cities learn from multiple perspectives to adapt to the changing Mississippi River that climate change will bring?
Deb Swackhamer, Water Resources Center, University of Minnesota
Pat Hamilton, Science Museum of Minnesota
Darlene St. Clair, Multicultural Resource Center, St. Cloud State University
Discussant: Kathy Quick, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Friday, April 10, 8:30am-11:30am
9:00-10:00 Keynote. “The Mississippi as Earthquake Country: How the surprising history of past disasters can shape future planning”
Conevery Valencius, Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts-Boston, author of The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes.
10:15-11:30 River as Future
This symposium has deliberately engaged diverse perspectives on the multifaceted Mississippi River. What will best continue the discussions begun this week? What voices must still be sought and engaged? What avenues for research, programming, and teaching can be developed from insights gained here? What can academia and the public and private sectors contribute?
John Anfinson, National Park Service
Kat Hayes, Anthropology, University of Minnesota
Pat Nunnally, River Life, University of Minnesota
Kate Brauman, Global Water Initiative, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota
Discussant: Jane Mazack, Sawyer Seminar Graduate Fellow, Water Resources Science Program, University of Minnesota
This symposium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Minnesota as part of the John E. Sawyer Seminar, “Making the Mississippi: Creating New Water Narratives for the 21st Century.”
John O. Anfinson is Superintendent of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a 72-mile long unit of the National Park System on the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. John has been researching, writing and speaking about the upper Mississippi River for over 25 years. He is the author of The River We Have Wrought: A History of the Upper Mississippi (2003), River of History (2003) and many articles about the Mississippi River. In 2005 John was one of ten U.S. delegates to the joint U.S./Dutch symposium on water resources at The Hague, Netherlands sponsored by the Institute for Water Resources and the Rijkswaterstaat. More recently, John helped initiate the Asian Carp Task Force for Minnesota and serves as co-chair of the effort. From 1980 to 2000, he worked for the St. Paul District, Corps of Engineers, as a cultural resources specialist and District Historian. He moved to the National Park Service in June of 2000. John is a founding board member of Friends of the Mississippi River, an organization that focuses on the environmental health of the Mississippi in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and is also on the Minnesota Marine Art Museum board. He holds a PhD in American History from the University of Minnesota.
Kate Brauman is the lead scientist for the Global Water Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, where she studies the coupled interaction of land-use change and water resources. Kate brings together the study of hydrology and plant-water relations with economics and policy to explore the effects of land cover on water delivery to downstream users. She is focused on hydrologic ecosystem services and global water availability and use, particularly by agriculture. Kate received her doctorate from the Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, where she designed and led a project on the Big Island of Hawai’i quantifying the effects of pasture and forest on groundwater recharge and calculating the associated costs of water extraction.
Jennifer Browning is the Executive Director of Bluestem Communications, a non-profit organization dedicated to land and water conservation through inspiring action and supporting coalitions. Jennifer has been the Executive Director of Bluestem for eight years and has managed the Mississippi River Network during her tenure. She also develops and tests behavior change campaigns geared to protecting the environment. She has a BS in Biology and more than 20 years’ experience in communications and has provided environmental education and communication advice to organizations such as The Field Museum, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, The USDA Forest Service, and the Morton Arboretum among many others.
Sharon Day, Ojibwe, is executive director of the Indigenous People’s Task Force. Sharon is 2nd degree Midewin and follows the spiritual path of the Anishinaabe people; part of her spiritual practice is to care for water. In 2003 Sharon Day, Josephine Madamin and other Anishinaabe women began Mother Earth Water Walks to bring awareness about water issues. By walking long distances with water and praying for it with each step, the women raise awareness about how water is connected to our lives. In spring 2013 she led a group of Ojibwe women on a two-month walk from the headwaters to the mouth of the Mississippi River to raise awareness about the water’s diminishing quality. She is an artist, musician, and writer and has received numerous awards, including the Resourceful Woman Award, the Gisela Knopka Award, BIHA’s Women of Color Award, The National Native American AIDS Prevention Resource Center’s Red Ribbon Award, and most recently, the Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Award. She is an editor of the anthology Sing! Whisper! Shout! Pray! Feminist Visions for a Just World (Edgework Books, 2000).
IAS Director Jennifer Gunn is History of Medicine Endowed Professor and a member of the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She is a historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century medicine, interested in the historical intersections of public health, medicine, biology, social sciences, and policy. Her current work examines the significance of place and practice in American medicine by exploring the history of rural health and medicine in the upper Midwest, 1900-1950.
Patrick Hamilton, Director of Global Change Initiatives at the Science Museum of Minnesota, develops projects that explore the challenges and opportunities of humanity as the dominant agent of global change. In recent years, these projects have included Water: H2O = Life, an international traveling exhibition developed in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History; the Big Back Yard, the museum’s outdoor environmental science park; Science House, the museum’s net-zero energy building; and Future Earth, an exhibit at the museum about how we thrive on a planet with 7.2 billion people and now home to the wealthiest, healthiest, most educated, innovative, creative and interconnected populace in history. Patrick also is a Fellow of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and a Board Member of District Energy St. Paul, and is a Principal Investigator with the University of Minnesota’s Urban Heat Island Network.
Provost Karen Hanson received her bachelor of arts, summa cum laude, in philosophy and mathematics at the University of Minnesota in 1970. She went on to earn both her master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Harvard University in 1980. Prior to returning to Minnesota, Hanson served as provost at the Bloomington campus of Indiana University and executive vice president of that university from July 2007 to January 2012. Provost Hanson’s research interests are in the philosophy of mind, ethics and aesthetics, and American philosophy. She has published many articles and essays in these areas and is the author of the book The Self Imagined: Philosophical Reflections on the Social Character of Psyche and a co-editor of the book Romantic Revolutions: Criticism and Theory. She has twice been elected to the executive committee of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association (APA) and to the APA National Board of Officers.
Kat Hayes is Associate Professor in Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. Her research explores issues of agency, negotiation, resistance, and opportunistic power demonstrated by peoples who history once popularly regarded as having been totally powerless in contexts of European colonization, like indigenous communities and enslaved Africans and African Americans. Pursuing these issues, most recently at sites in New York and Minnesota, has led her to work in the productive tension between history and archaeology, the curated and the abandoned, memory and forgetting, and most importantly in conflicting notions of heritage. She is a convener of the IAS Heritage Collaborative and Partnership with MnHS, a working group convened to explore new pedagogical approaches to training heritage professionals reflecting an interdisciplinary and community-based field; she is also a principal investigator of the John E. Sawyer Seminar.
Colin Kloecker is an artist, designer and filmmaker who works at the intersection of civic engagement and public art-making. He loves projects that invite participation, inspire new connections, encourage self-reflection, and enable collaborative meaning-making. He believes we can create more resilient, playful, and supportive communities by daylighting and nourishing knowledge and creativity where it already exists. Colin was a 2011 Fellow in the Creative Community Leadership Institute at Intermedia Arts, and was awarded a 2014 Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Next Step grant to make a short film with employees of the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant in Saint Paul. Everyday he strives to see beautiful possibilities in the systems of the city and to make interventions and provocations in our collective civic imagination.
Nenette Luarca-Shoaf is the 2014-15 Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research considers a wide range of visual imagery to understand how representation and circulation affect constructions of place and identity. She is also serving as guest curator for “Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River,” an exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art that ran through January 2015 before traveling to the St. Louis Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has served as Lecturer in the Art Department at Ursinus College and recently as Research Associate and Social Media Coordinator for the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Shanai Matteson is a writer, artist and arts organizer who leads and supports collaborative public art and design projects. She’s interested in work at the margins of established fields and practices, and believes that edges and intersections provide fertile ground for artists and designers to learn and create, with and in community. In addition to her role as Collaborative Director of Works Progress Studio, Shanai writes about artists and engagement, produces and directs documentary films, and consults with a wide range of organizations. Shanai is the Artistic Director of Public Art Saint Paul’s City Art Collaboratory, a fellowship program for artists and scientists working with and on the Mississippi River and other ecologically-focused public art and engagement projects. In 2013 Shanai was awarded a Bush Fellowship to pursue her artistic and environmental leadership work.
Jane Mazack is a 2014-15 John E. Sawyer Seminar Graduate Fellow at the IAS and a doctoral candidate in the Water Resources Science program at the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation research, “Winter invertebrate dynamics in groundwater-fed streams in southeastern Minnesota,” identifies and quantifies the complex relationships among groundwater, temperature, and invertebrate dynamics in southeastern Minnesota trout streams. More broadly, her research explores the implications of climate change on winter-adapted invertebrate communities.
Richard Mizelle is Professor of History at the University of Houston. His research explores the historical borders and overlap between questions of race, environment, technology, and health in modern America. His book Backwater Blues: The 1927 Mississippi River Flood and the African American Imagination (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), offers a critique of long-standing ideas of black environmental complacency by showing the ways in which black commentators from W.E.B. Du Bois to Bessie Smith provided an ecological intellectual criticism of the disaster. He is also co-editor of Resilience and Opportunity: Lessons from the U.S. Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita (Brookings Institution Press, 2011) and is currently at work on a new project that will examine the long and complex history of race and diabetes from the turn of the 19th century through Hurricane Katrina.
Laurie Moberg is a 2014-15 John E. Sawyer Seminar Graduate Fellow at the IAS and a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. Questioning the complex intersection of the material world and human processes of meaning-making, her dissertation research investigates recurrent episodes of flooding on rivers in Thailand to query how human and nonhuman stakeholders make meaning from these events and make designs on the future in their aftermath. Her research more broadly explores the material, political, and cosmological entanglements between humans and nonhumans, people and the material world, and how these relations are reimagined and reconfigured across geographic and temporal scales in an era of global climate change.
Christopher Morris lives in Dallas, Texas, and is Professor of History at the University of Texas at Arlington. He is the author of two books, Becoming Southern: The Evolution of a Way of Life, Warren County and Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1770-1860, and The Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi and Its Peoples from Hernando de Soto to Hurricane Katrina. Raised in Canada, Morris grew up on the Great Lakes, moving south to attend graduate school at the University of Florida. He is working on a book on the Coastal South from Virginia to Texas.
Pat Nunnally, coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s River Life program, works to establish lasting relationships among the University of Minnesota and groups working on river sustainability. In the past two decades, Nunnally has developed a unique practice as a consulting historian, communications manager and interpretive planner, with a focus on rivers, trails and scenic byways. He has organized events and conferences with a Mississippi River connection, and has presented his work at numerous academic and professional meetings. He’s also worked with public agencies and private firms on many planning projects for culturally sensitive sites. Nunnally’s writings have appeared in a variety of forms, including the ongoing blog River Talk. The City, the River, the Bridge, an edited collection of essays examining the consequences and aftermath of the I-35W bridge collapse, appeared in January 2011. Since 1999, Nunnally has served on the U of M faculty, teaching classes in landscape planning and urban studies. He holds graduate degrees in English, American studies and landscape architecture from Vanderbilt University, the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota. He is a principal investigator of the John E. Sawyer Seminar.
Kathy Quick is Assistant Professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Her research intersects the public and nonprofit management, urban planning, and public policy fields. She is particularly interested in how inclusive processes for engaging diverse stakeholders in defining problems, generating solutions, and collaborating on implementation may build resources to support social and ecological resilience. Dr. Quick’s research contributions combine a rich account of particular engagement settings or methods with grounded theory development, and produce new frameworks to guide professional practice in planning, management, or policy-making, accomplished by synthesizing existing empirical and theoretical research. Her research, teaching, and service commitments grow out of her professional practice. She worked as an environmental advocate and policy analyst in Indonesia for 8 years and as a community development manager in 2 Californian cities over 6 years.
Jim Rock, Dakota, is an adjunct faculty member in American Indian Studies, Religion, and Education at Augsburg College, and incoming Program Director of the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium, University of Minnesota-Duluth. He has a Master’s degree in education and has taught astronomy, chemistry and physics for thirty years for thousands of students in universities and high schools from urban, suburban and reservation communities. His unique approach to teaching has inspired many students, both Native and Non-Native, to seek careers in STEM/science, anthropology and education. He currently teaches a Native Skywatchers course at Augsburg College offering indigenous cosmology lessons to teachers throughout Minnesota in collaboration with Annette Lee at St. Cloud State University and Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College, where he also tutored and inspired urban Native students to see and experience science through a combination of western and Native knowledge. Jim is a consultant with both NASA and NOAA using satellite visualization and storytelling, and designed the first Native American experiment aboard the last NASA space shuttle, STS-135 Atlantis.
Mona M. Smith, Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, is a media artist, educator and the owner of Allies: media/art. A former college-level educator, Smith has produced work that has been broadcast through PBS and other networks, shown at festivals, conferences and museums in the Europe, and North and South America. Her work has won multiple awards from Native and Non-Native film and video festivals. Her most recent work has been in new media, developing art pieces for the web, creating sites for web distribution of Native focused media, and multimedia installation work, most notably, Cloudy Waters; Dakota Reflections on the River, in the experimental gallery at the Minnesota History Center in 2004-2005, and at the Experiential Gallery of Virginia Tech, 2010, and permanently at the Mill City Ruins Courtyard, Minneapolis Riverfront and the Science Museum of Minnesota 2015, City Indians for the Ancient Traders Art Gallery of Minneapolis in 2006-2007, Mnisota Dakota Home at Form + Content Gallery, Presence, a multi-media/live installation/event at Mill City Museum Ruins Courtyard on the Minneapolis Riverfront in 2010, and the Bdote Memory Map in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center, and work with the Telling River Stories project of the University of Minnesota. Smith is a founder of the evolving project the Healing Place Collaborative.
Darlene St. Clair is Director of the Multicultural Resource Center at St. Cloud State University, which provides services and resources for students, faculty and community members to research, teach about, and broaden their knowledge of historically excluded racial and ethnic groups of color in the United States. She is also a visiting professor in the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, with expertise in Dakota culture and history, American Indian arts, cultural expressions, and education, and Minnesota tribes and communities.
Deborah L. Swackhamer is a Professor of Science, Technology, and Public Policy in the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and served as Co-director of the WRC from September 2003 to July, 2014. She also is a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health. She received a BA in Chemistry from Grinnell College, IA and a MS and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Water Chemistry and Limnology & Oceanography, respectively. After two years post-doctoral research in Chemistry and Public & Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, she joined the Minnesota faculty in 1987. She studies the processes affecting the behavior of, and exposures to, toxic chemicals in the environment and works on policies to address these potential risks.
Conevery Valencius is Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she writes and teaches about U.S. environmental history, the history of science and medicine, and the American Civil War. Her recent projects have focused on the history of earthquakes and seismology, the history of the environmental sciences, and journeys of trade and exploration in the American West. In the fall of 2013, The University of Chicago Press published The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes, which asks how we know what we know — or what we think we know — about the New Madrid earthquakes that rocked the middle Mississippi Valley in 1811 and 1812. Going forward across two centuries, the book demonstrates the impact of the quakes on early American society, from Indian settlement to frontier revivals to scientific theorizing, and explores the environmental, social, and scientific forces that submerged knowledge of the quakes for a century — and only very recently called those events back into scientific and public visibility.
Gwen Westerman is Professor in English and Director of the Humanities Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Recipient of the 2014 Hognander Minnesota History Award and the 2015 Native American Artist-in-Residence Fellowship at the Minnesota Historical Society, she is an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate. She says, “As Dakota people, we have a long, rich history that explains not only where we came from, but also our responsibilities in this world to each other and to the universe. My writing and art are grounded in Dakota culture and tradition, history, oral tradition, and language recovery—and the continuation of our story.”
Tagged Christopher Morris, Cinema, Climate Change, Colin Kloecker, Conevery Valencius, Dakota, Deb Swackhamer, Gwen Westerman, History, Humphrey Center, Institute on the Environment, Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair, Jane Mazack, Jennifer Browning, Jim Rock, John Anfinson, Karen Hanson, Kate Brauman, Katherine Hayes, Kathy Quick, Laurie Moberg, Mississippi River, Mississippi River Network, Mona Smith, Nenette Luarca-Shoaf, Pat Hamilton, Pat Nunnally, Richard Mizelle, Science Museum of Minnesota, Shanai Matteson, Sharon Day, Water Resources Center, Works Progress