I was absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to read texts that directly engage questions of culture and modernity, particularly in the context of indigeneity. It was a rare treat to actually have coursework that addressed these issues, and I felt the primary texts that dealt with them—Coombe, Tsing, West, & Deloria—were all are excellent choices. Though, as I have admitted, I didn’t get too much out of Deloria’s text because many of the larger arguments were things I felt I already knew as a member of Native communities, I still greatly appreciated the chance to think about these things a bit more in depth—I wish that the discussion of Deloria had gone better, because I feel it’s a rich text that has a lot to offer, particularly to non-Natives who do not have a background in Native Studies or ties to a Native community. West was particularly useful for me as well, and Coombe has left me with more questions than answers (which I believe is a good thing). Questions of intellectual property were never really on the forefront of my mind and to be honest I assumed them to be a bit dry, but reading this semester’s text has proven otherwise (especially now that I’m in a battle with a museum for access to some family heirlooms!). I’m looking forward to continuing my studies of cultural/intellectual property, culture, and modernity in indigenous contexts, and feel that this course gave me a strong beginner’s introduction to get my feet wet.
In terms of the actual assignments for the course, the assignment that was most useful to me was the repeated presentations. I’m a visual learner so the required time spent trying to make a Powerpoint with the bare essentials of my project was very useful in streamlining and developing my thoughts, and the practice presenting my work to an audience unfamiliar with my subject and context was illuminating. I didn’t find the peer reviews of paper drafts to be that helpful, partly because it didn’t feel like anyone this go around was equipped with the background knowledge to give me much constructive feedback…the presentations were helpful primarily because it forced me to think about how I would get non-Native audiences interested in my work, and how to make it as easily understood as possible for a wide range of reviewers.
All in all, I enjoyed the course and learned a lot—thanks for the great semester.