Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Ainsley Cunningham SURF SMART

Unearthing Deep Histories of Salt Using Online Archives

History critically enables us to go back into the past and recover the essential context necessary to understand our present, despite and in defiance of established colonial narratives that often seek to disperse and bury the truth. This project will explore the centrality of salt as a material, cultural, and political resource in North American Indigenous society, and the ways in which salt reserves became highly contested sites as European colonizers attempted to co-opt the body of profound environmental knowledge harbored by the Indigenous cultures with which they came into contact in an attempt to command control over this resource. Our research will draw on a range of archaeological, geological, and ethnographic materials to inform a more complete understanding of how salt was transformed into a tool for political power in mid-sixteenth-century North America. Throughout this project, with the guidance of my mentor, I will develop the ability to practice online archival research, analyze geological and archaeological reports, and ultimately draw on interdisciplinary sources to further develop and enrich historical narrative.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you for providing this opportunity for me to participate in the SURF-SMART program. I am incredibly excited to work with and learn from my mentor as we embark on our research this summer. In contributing to this research project, I will have the chance to develop valuable skills in archival research and interdisciplinary analysis that I am sure will prove indispensable as I continue my studies in the social sciences. Thank you again for your enormous generosity and support!
Profile image of Ainsley Cunningham
Major: Cognitive Science, History
Mentor: Annabel LaBrecque
Sponsor: Shin Morgan Fund
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