History Department
History Department

Erika Bsumek’s research awarded sabbatical grant by Louisville Institute

Fri, March 16, 2018
Erika Bsumek’s research awarded sabbatical grant by Louisville Institute
Professor Erika M. Bsumek

Please join us in congratulating Professor Erika Bsumek, who has been awarded a Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant for Researchers to complete her book project titled “Damming Zion: Race, Religion, and Environmental Stewardship on the Colorado Plateau, 1800-1980.” Consistent with the Louisville Institute’s support for “research and leadership education on American religion,” Damming Zion engages with the Colorado Plateau’s “rich and diverse cultural, environmental, and religious histories that influenced both local politics and federal Indian policy.”

ForgottenTrailMormonSettlementsProfessor Bsumek contributes to the historical literature by examining how “ideas about race and environmental stewardship altered social relations and land use practices on the Colorado Plateau.” In addition to examining the ideas and practices of both Mormons and Indigenous peoples, this book explores how federal agencies handled issues such as sovereignty and religious freedom “to determine who had access, rights, and control over key land- and waterscapes.”

According to Professor Bsumek her manuscript will “explain the evolution and intersection of the religious, racial, political, and environmental ideologies behind the dams that irrigated, watered, and electrified the modern West, especially in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.”

During this academic year, Professor Bsumek has also been appointed a fellow of the Institute for Historical Studies (IHS). In January, she presented part of her work at an summit which never meltsIHS workshop titled “Layers of Contact: Explorers, Geologists, and the Creation of a Racialized Landscape on the Colorado Plateau, 1890-1939.” This paper explored how Indigenous knowledge was appropriated by various groups during the exploration, mapping, and surveying of the Colorado Plateau.


HoleintheRockExpeditionProfessor Bsumek researches and teaches Native American history, U.S. West history, environmental history, the history of engineering, and the history of consumption and production that cover the relationship between geography, climate change, and engineering. In addition to her current project, she wrote Indian-made: Navajo Culture in the Marketplace, 1880-1940 (University of Kansas Press, 2008), which examined the intersection of consumerism and ethnic identity construction. She is also the co-editor of Nation States and the Global Environment: New Approaches to Environmental History (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Read more about Professor Bsumek’s research and publications on her faculty profile page.

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Story by Shery Chanis, Ph.D. Candidate, UT History Dept.


Images, from the top:

“A Forgotten Trail and Mormon Settlements,” Ensign, Feb. 1980.
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/02/a-forgotten-trail-and-mormon-settlements?lang=eng

San Francisco Peak, Sacred to Diné (Navajo) Also called, Dook'o'oosłííd—(Navajo) ("Dook'o'oosłííd," which means "the summit which never melts" or "the mountain which peak never thaws.") https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/San_Francisco_Peaks.jpg

Trail of the “Hole in the Rock” Expedition, Carved/Traversed by Mormon Pioneers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Juan_Expedition#/media/File:HoleInTheRock.jpg

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