Three Georgia Southern University faculty members were recently awarded a $190,000 contract to work with the National Park Service (NPS) for an Andersonville National Historic Site project. The contract will allow associate professors Heidi Altman, Ph.D., Jennifer Sweeney Tookes, Ph.D., and Ryan McNutt, Ph.D., with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences to perform an ethnographic overview and assessment of the cultural resources associated with the Andersonville National Historic Site.
“Our project will add the Native American component to the interpretation of Andersonville, as well as bolstering existing information and interpretations of African American and Andersonville descendant communities,” said Altman. “Understanding the places, features and landscapes that are significant to people about this site will allow the NPS to manage the site most effectively.”
The work entails collecting interviews with site neighbors, site users, historically and traditionally associated communities and other stakeholders. Those interviews will be used to document the ways the national historic site is viewed and the kinds of culturally significant resources it encompasses.
“A central goal of anthropology is to make space for voices that might not be represented,” said Sweeney Tookes. “This collaboration with the National Park Service allows us to identify people whose histories and cultures have been, or still are, entangled with this space, and to make sure that their stories are included in future NPS endeavors.”
They will also document the significance of specific locations and features onsite.
Student research will be a central component of the project as both undergraduate and graduate students will be hired to work on anthropological research and other experiential learning activities.
“The impact we all hope to have on our students is to provide opportunities for them to learn, grow and experience real world examples of how anthropology can be applied outside academia in a host of different ways,” said McNutt. “They’ll also impact the project through the individuals they’ll meet and with the stories they’ll hear. This will build a stronger, more nuanced narrative. They’ll bring to this project the energy, creativity and work ethic that has seen a vast majority of our students succeed after graduation.”