Erica Kowsz, a candidate for May graduation from Hamilton, has been awarded a Fulbright Grant to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She will spend the 2011-12 academic year conducting fieldwork among the Sinixt First Nation in the Slocan Valley. Kowsz will produce an ethnographic film exploring the connections between indigenous conceptions of past, place and identity and how these understandings relate to archaeology. Assistant Professor of Anthropology Nathan Goodale will continue to be Kowsz's primary advisor on this project. Her work will also be supported by Dr. John Welch, chair of Canada Research and Indigenous Heritage Stewardship at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
Kowsz, an anthropology and Hispanic studies major, has previously worked with displaced peoples on the topics of memory, place, identity, heritage preservation and the connection of these topics to archaeology. In 2009 she participated in archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork on the western Irish coast as part of a team working on the Cultural Landscapes of the Irish Coast project. As a result of the interviews she conducted, she produced a short film “Silent Stones of Inishark: Landscape, Archaeology, Memory” that was screened as one of the top 30 entries to the 7.5 Minute Film Festival at the Society for American Archaeology meeting in March 2010. She was a panelist for Hamilton’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi) on the incorporation of oral history into an archaeological project through the use of video based on that research.
Also in 2009 Kowsz participated in Hamilton’s archaeology field school in the Slocan Valley directed by Goodale. There she excavated at a Sinixt village site, visited the Sinixt reburial grounds at Vallican and met Sinixt leaders and members of the local Euro-American community. In 2010 she travelled to Canada to conduct ethnographic interviews with Sinixt people and is producing a film and written thesis focusing on how we can recognize ethnic identity in the archaeological record. That project received seed money from DHi.
Kowsz was the 2010 recipient of the Beinecke Scholarship for graduate study. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in October, 2010, and she received a Levitt Summer Research Fellowship in 2009. At Hamilton she is an anthropology teaching assistant and a Writing Center tutor. She is a member of the Society for American Archaeology, the Hamilton Outing Club and Mohawk Valley chapter of the Slow Food Movement.
She is the daughter of Kim and John Kowsz of Hebron, Conn., and a graduate of Rham High School.
Upon her return to the U.S. she will use her Beinecke scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology and continue her interdisciplinary work in archaeology, memory studies, ethnographic films and heritage preservation.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships for U.S. graduating college seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study abroad for one academic year. The purpose of the Fulbright Program is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills. The program is designed to give recent college graduates opportunities for personal development and international experience.
The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by Congress to the Department of State. The U.S. Student Program awards approximately 900 grants annually and currently operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.