Eli Nelson

Eli Nelson

Assistant Professor, American Studies, Williams College
Eli  Nelson

Research Interests: Native science; indigeneity and science; science and nation building; intellectual decolonization movements; New Deal sciences; traditional ecological knowledge, history of anthropology and archeology; environmental history; postcolonial, feminist and queer theory; haudenosaunee (Six Nations) history; postcolonial material history and museum studies.

Eli Nelson is a PhD graduate of the History of Science department at Harvard, a doctoral fellow with the Science, Religion, and Culture program at Harvard Divinity School, and a graduate student associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. He studies the history of native science in settler-colonial and postcolonial contexts. His dissertation traces the history of twentieth century indigenous engagements with western scientific hegemony in the United States. He analyzes different modes of engagement with science and the role native and western sciences and epistemes have played in nation building and decolonization projects. In other work, Eli focuses on the history of Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) science, New Deal colonial sciences, postcolonial anthropology, indigenous reproductive health and sexualities, queer and two-spirit histories, and indigenous science fiction. Invested in ongoing scholarly and institutional decolonization efforts, he attempts to elevate indigenous discourses and epistemic values in his work, centering land, kin, and nonhuman relations. Situating contemporary environmental issues in the settler-colonial and postcolonial condition, Eli also explores how climate change has interacted with the ascendance of native science categories in recent decades, and the positioning of indigenous vulnerability and traditional ecological knowledge in global discourses on global warming.  


Papers Presented:
The Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force: American Indian Epistemic Sovereignty and Scientific Authority at the Juncture of Climate Catastrophe (1991-2005), History of Science Society Conference, November 2016

Sacred Lives Under Glass: False Face Society Medicine Masks, Postcolonial Anthropology, and Haudenosaunee Politics of Refusal in the Twentieth Century, Ways of Knowing Conference at Harvard Divinity School, October 2016

Repossessing the Wilderness: New Deal Science and American Indian Self-Determination in the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, Science, Religion and Culture Symposium, May 2016

Navigating the St. Lawrence Seaway in a Canoe: Haudenosaunee Science, Sovereignty and Environmental Activism, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference, May 2016

BA., Shimer College
AM., History of Science, Harvard University
PhD., History of Science, Harvard University 

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