Hello, friends and relatives of RIGS! My name is Kat Hayes, and I am honored to be serving as the director of the RIGS Initiative for the next two years. Let me tell you a bit about myself and what I am hoping we can do through RIGS in the next few years.
My tenure home is in Anthropology, and I was trained as an archaeologist working in contexts of settler colonialism in North America. My research focus is on both highlighting the daily lives and experiences of marginalized people in the past and also the marginalization of their stories in contemporary heritage representations. In particular, what role does archaeology play in those representations? Such usage of archaeology has critically (and often harmfully) impacted Native communities, so I have found a second home as an active affiliate in the American Indian Studies department. I also am a co-founder of the Heritage Studies and Public History graduate program, in which we aim to diversify the practitioners and bring a critical and inclusive lens to the content of public heritage/historical institutions.
In the coming years, we will continue to support faculty and students working on RIGS scholarship, through research collaborations, research funding, social network building, writing support, and public programming. But we will also bring new attention and energy to an area that our RIGS community does so well at: community engagement. I see so many exciting initiatives and partnerships happening already, many of the partnerships with local schools as a means of addressing educational inequalities. Others are connecting us to arts communities, especially artists of color and Indigenous artists. What can RIGS do to grow institutional support for these partnerships and collaborations, in ways that respect the distinct nature of those relationships yet provide equitable access to resources? I plan to have many conversations with folks on and off campus about how to do just that.
Thank you for connecting with RIGS, and if I haven’t met you yet I look forward to it!