The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Erica Kowsz



Erica Kowsz, is a 2019–2020 recipient of a $5,000 Dissertation Fellowship and a PhD Candidate in the Anthropology Department. Kowsz’s dissertation research examines the government policies for recognition of indigenous people that were developed from the 1970s through the 1990s in two distinct research contexts: that of the Sami in Norway and that of Native Americans in the U.S., with a focus on the story of Nipmuc people in southern New England. Ultimately, Kowsz’s research focuses on forms and modes of social relation, with a focus on the tension between how identities are expressed and perceived in everyday life and how they are inscribed in official government definitions. Because descent plays an important role in both notions of belonging withinindigenous communities and as a core element policies of indigenous recognition administered by Norway and the United States, family, as a mode of social relation, is a central part of the story. Kowsz is completing fieldwork in 2019, and will be spending  the 2019–2020 academic year under the mentorship of Dr. Sonya Atalay, focused on analysis, writing, and designing an additional products-of-research tailored to the needs of communities that have contributed to the project.