UROP Mentor: Dr. Bethany Hughes

What is your research project?

Native American Removal, Education, Representation

What are the goals of your research project?

To create a timeline of the first Native American nation removal in wake of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, to explore the performance-like nature of implementing U.S. federal Indian policy including removal and allotment, to situate the contemporary environment in Michigan for Native American higher education within its historical context, and to locate instances of negative representation of Native Americans within 19th and 20th century American popular                                                               theatrical entertainment.    

Why is this research important?

My research works to understand how performance as a practice and a form of entertainment shapes American cultural understanding of Native Americans and how performing provides Native Americans with possibilities of affirming, challenging, and refusing American cultural expectations. I seek to understand how the current moment and its possibilities and constraints for Indigenous people were shaped by historical forces and events in order to understand how we might modify the present or create a future that more fully supports Indigenous flourishing.

What drives you to conduct this research?

How we recognize humanity in others and how we extend humanity to others are fundamental processes through which we create and enact our world. I am driven to understand and articulate the processes that prevent the extension and recognition of humanity to Indigenous peoples as well as point to examples both historical and contemporary that demonstrate how the difficult and messy business of living together can be navigated with care, integrity, and intentionality to provide Indigenous peoples and nations space and resources to flourish.

Is there a Call to Action you would like to encourage?

Learn the history of where you are and build a relationship with the Indigenous peoples whose lands you call home.

What resources would you recommend to learn more about your research topic?

I have a few open access pieces online (not behind paywalls of academic journals) published by Howlround.com, Theatre Topics, and Theatre Journal.