Hannah Renee McElgunn

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9348

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

McElgunn, Hannah Renee, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Translating Hopi: Language Revitalization, Knowledge and Property,' supervised by Dr. Justin Richard

HANNAH McELGUNN, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was granted funding in October 2016 to aid research on ‘Translating Hopi: Language Revitalization, Knowledge and Property,’ supervised by Dr. Justin Richard. This project investigated how three different sets of actors — the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office staff and advisors, Hopi language teachers, and off-reservation archivists — embedded the Hopi language in different systems of proprietary knowledge. Initial findings suggest that despite having different interests in the Hopi language and being in dialogue with different non-Hopi audiences, both the Cultural Preservation Office staff and the language teachers worked to uphold a similar system of proprietary knowledge. This system is centripetal: while Hopi cultural material may travel beyond the mesas to non-Hopi audiences, both sets of actors worked to ensure that all instantiations are tied back to the Hopi mesas, upholding them as the center of cultural life. On the other hand, in striving to balance the accommodation of native interests with a commitment to serving ‘the public,’ some archivists attended more to the dynamics of secrecy and disclosure, so that accommodation took the form of modulating rights of access to native materials under their management. However, this focus on access, to the exclusion of other ways of imagining relationships between the archive, documents, and their audiences, may have the unintended effect of undermining certain Hopi norms of proprietary knowledge.