🔗NPS Mellon Humantities Postdoctoral Fellow: West of the American Revolution: Placemaking, Belonging, and Identity in the Intermountain Region
American Conservation Experience
Much of the programming commemorating the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence will emphasize people, places, and events in the eastern US. The Intermountain Region (IMR) – not a region traditionally associated with the American Revolution – also has rich histories from this period and beyond. For example, the lands taken to form parks within the IMR and elsewhere in the NPS system were home to Indigenous people from time immemorial, as well as Spanish colonists and their descendants during the events of the American Revolution. The West is also where individuals and communities actively negotiated changing concepts of identity and belonging throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These include Indigenous groups, African Americans, women, Hispanics and Latinos, immigrants from Asia and the Pacific, Civil War veterans, and Mormons. The Fellow will have the opportunity to delve into current research and create innovative and unique programming that gives IMR parks (and others across the NPS) avenues for flexible and meaningful ways to connect to the Revolution and its legacies.
Each NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow will complete work in four areas. Fellows will (1) perform project-based research; (2) share research results; (3) produce and substantially contribute to interpretive and educational products; and (4) pursue career-focused work.
1) Project-Based Research: The first year of the fellowship, the Fellow will focus on “placemaking”: essentially what was happening across the Intermountain Region during the Revolutionary period, specifically in lands that are now part of the National Park system. This research will include topics of land use, displacement, ownership, and sovereignty. In the second year, the Fellow will focus on the legacies of the American Revolution in the West, particularly the questions of “identity” and “belonging.” In year two, the Fellow will consult with their mentorship team, as well as other subject matter experts as needed, to propose a project for their second year.
2) Sharing Research Results: For the Year One focus on “placemaking,” the fellow will develop an annotated bibliography and comparative timeline for the Intermountain Region, with an emphasis on lands now part of the National Park system. This will help ground regional parks in their specific Revolutionary histories. The Fellow will organize a series of research workshops to help park and regional staff, volunteers, and interns to formulate and address research questions. For Year Two’s focus on the Revolution’s western legacies, the Fellow will organize a scholar roundtable and series of workshops focusing on developing cultural competencies among frontline interpreters. In addition, the Fellow may be able to partner with the new Community Engagement Coordinators in the region to help magnify and lift the program.
The Fellow will be expected to develop and sustain connections with program-provided mentors and host staff, associated NPS staff, members of their Fellowship cohort, and other Fellows across the tenure of the program. In addition to being provided mentorship and support themselves, the Fellow will have the opportunity to mentor others and to enrich staff knowledge by organizing events such as virtual speaker series and presentations. Twice a year, the Fellow will participate with their cohort and other Fellows in a virtual conference for NPS staff and partners to provide updates about their research. The Fellow will be responsible for tracking and reporting accomplishments and for supplying copies of interpretive, educational, and research products to their host and to the National Coordinator.
3) Interpretive and Educational Products: We envision that the work of the Mellon Fellow will lay the foundation for parks to begin deeper and broader conversations, foster new relationships, and develop a deeper understanding of our role in telling the full, unvarnished history of our past. We think a foundation in strong scholarship will provide parks the confidence and tools to curate and present strong interpretive products. The Mellon Fellow will develop products that model how to do this work. The format and presentation of these products may vary, and include resources for park staff, content on NPS.gov, written reports, podcasts, or other digital media. Candidates with a passion for communication and storytelling will excel in this position.
4) Career-focused Research and Products: In consultation with their mentors, the Fellow will carry out a career-centered project. About 20 percent of the Fellowship will be dedicated to this scholarly work that advances the Fellow’s career path. The Fellow will be supported by a multidisciplinary team that draws on local, regional, and agency-wide expertise. In addition to NPS staff, the Fellow will also have an external mentor whose work intersects with the fellowship.
Essential Responsibilities and Tasks:
- The Mellon Fellow will research life in the Intermountain West during the Revolutionary Era, specifically that associated with the parks managed by the NPS Intermountain Regional Office. This research will help de-center the narrative of US history as one of western expansion. The Fellow will also research and explore the legacies of the Era in the region. Themes to explore include land use, displacement, ownership, sovereignty, identity, and belonging.
- Based on research findings regarding the Revolutionary Era in the Intermountain West, the Fellow will develop an annotated bibliography and a comparative timeline that connects the parks into a regional and national narrative.
- Based on their Revolutionary Era and Legacies research, the Fellow will develop and host a series of four workshops designed to assist NPS frontline staff in formulating and addressing research questions and connecting them to broader narratives and themes.
- The Fellow will develop a small-scale interpretive product around the theme of “placemaking” based on histories of the American Revolution in the Intermountain West. This product will serve as a model for parks in making these connections meaningful and relevant to visitors.
- The Fellow will also develop a larger interpretive product or series of products that connects IMR park(s) to the theme of the legacies of the Revolution. This will serve as a model for parks in making these broader connections meaningful and relevant to visitors.
- The Fellow will organize and host scholar roundtable exploring the legacies of the Revolution in the west.
- The Fellow will develop and host two workshops to help build cultural competencies for frontline interpreters.