PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Bathsheba Demuth, an assistant professor of history and environment and society at Brown University, has received a $200,000 fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to support an original research project that explores the intersection of nature and politics.
Demuth is one of 27 Andrew Carnegie Fellows from across the nation selected this year. The fellowships are awarded to scholars annually to support high-caliber research in the humanities and social sciences that addresses important and enduring issues confronting society. Research topics typically focus on a broad range of complex political, economic, technological, humanistic and sociological matters.
For Demuth, the fellowship will fund a research trip down the Yukon River, which stretches from Northern Canada to the southwestern coast of Alaska. Demuth said the Yukon watershed is an ideal place to study how societies have historically included — or excluded — nature and the environment in their political decisions: The region holds the histories of multiple ways of governance; indigenous nations, European empires and contemporary democracies had, and in some cases still have, different ideas about how or even whether to protect and steward the land.
“So many political traditions overlap there — indigenous nations, the Russian and British empires, the United States and Canada,” Demuth said. “All have or had ideas about how water or land, moose or geese, air or gold, should be stewarded and distributed and related to. How do we treat entities that are not people in our political decision-making? I think this question is particularly important now, as people around the globe deal with massive and continuing environmental change.”
The environmental history scholar said her research will result in a book, tentatively titled “The Yukon Watershed,” aimed at both researchers and the general public. She also has plans to collaborate with news publications to document the research process, and she will work with two Alaska Native podcasters — including Deenaalee Hodgdon, a Class of 2019 Brown graduate with Deg Xit'an Dene and Supiaq ancestry — to share indigenous residents’ stories about their relationships with the land.