St. Olaf Campus News
On the eve of the presidential inauguration, political scientist and ethnographer Justin Gest will visit St. Olaf College to offer a fresh look at the white working class constituency that helped propel Donald Trump to victory.
His January 18 lecture, sponsored by the college’s Institute for Freedom and Community, is titled Trump and the White Working Class: The Politics of a New Minority?
The event, which will be streamed and archived online, begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Sun and Gold Ballrooms in Buntrock Commons. Immediately following the lecture, leaders with the Institute-supported Sustained Dialogue Program at St. Olaf will facilitate small-group discussions. The event will conclude with a Q&A session motivated by the discussions in these small groups.
Gest’s lecture will draw from his recent book, The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality, in which he examines once-thriving white working class communities that have fallen on hard times.
Gest offers a new and potentially controversial perspective on the driving forces shaping the political activity of white working class people, and his work bears directly on questions of race, racism, and marginality in the context of Trump’s victory.
Gest is an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. His teaching and research interests include comparative politics, minority political behavior, and immigration policy, and he has also published Apart: Alienated and Engaged Muslims in the West.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in government at Harvard University and his Ph.D. in government from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Ericka Huggins, a human rights activist, poet, educator, Black Panther leader, and former political prisoner, will deliver a Martin Luther King Jr. Day lecture at St. Olaf College titled The Thread Running Through History.
The lecture, which will be streamed and archived online, will begin at 3:30 p.m. on January 16 in the Sun Ballroom in Buntrock Commons. It is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.
In her lecture, Huggins will explore the weaving of the threads of systemic inequity history in the tapestry of U.S. culture, the relevance of these threads in the present, and the impact of this interweaving on future generations.
A professor of sociology and African American studies in the Peralta Community College District, Huggins has lectured throughout the United States and internationally for more than three decades. She has devoted her life to the equality of all — beyond the boundaries of age, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, or ability.
Huggins spent 14 years as a leader of the Black Panther Party (the longest of any woman in leadership), including eight years as director of the party’s Oakland Community School. During that time, she became both the first black person and the first woman appointed to the Alameda County Board of Education.
A lifelong writer and poet, Huggins published Insights and Poems, a book of poetry she co-authored with Huey P. Newton, in 1974. Her poetry and writings have appeared in numerous magazines and books.
“I believe as a teacher I must be a student; as a student I must be a teacher,” Huggins says on her website. “I write poetry. I read to hone my critical thinking skills. I believe that we learn best by engaging one another as we serve the world.”
When you think of archaeological work, you might think of traditional methods like excavation.
But in their project to preserve a site older than Stonehenge, St. Olaf College faculty and students are taking up the same advanced digital tools that are often used by engineers and businesses.
Through advanced photogrammetry, Jack Hubler-Dayton ’17 is documenting the Jeffers Petroglyphs, a North American indigenous rock-art site located in southwestern Minnesota.
Advanced photogrammetry is a type of 3D modeling that constructs the depth of an object by measuring the distance between photos taken of it. These digital tools, Hubler-Dayton says, “encompass both the scientific and the artistic.”
Hubler-Dayton’s work is part of a collaborative research project at the Jeffers Petroglyphs initiated by St. Olaf Professor of History and Ancient Studies Tim Howe. This project brings together indigenous tribal groups, scholars, and undergraduate students to preserve the cultural heritage of the site through traditional excavation as well as advanced photogrammetry.
With these digital tools, archaeologists “get a clearer image than they get with the naked eye,” says Hubler-Dayton. “The rock carvings at Jeffers are barely visible for about an hour in the morning, between 5:30 and 6:30.”
In order to learn about advanced photogrammetry, Hubler-Dayton spent a week with Howe at Cultural Heritage Imaging, an organization dedicated to advancing the state of digital documentation. Cultural Heritage Imaging offers technology, tools, and training for cultural stewards, such as Howe and Hubler-Dayton.
Now, Howe and Hubler-Dayton are bringing these digital tools back to St. Olaf, where Howe is teaching a new course at the Jeffers Petroglyphs. This course is designed to expose students to methodologies and field practices employed by archaeologists when studying North American indigenous cultures. And with it, St. Olaf will become one of only a handful of institutions in the country that offer training in advanced photogrammetry.
With advanced photogrammetry and other methods, those involved with the research project are inventorying thousands of rock carvings at Jeffers, one of the most extensive collections of petroglyphs found in North America.
Jeffers, situated on a 30-mile long outcrop of Sioux quartzite, includes images of humans, buffalo, turtles, thunderbirds, and arrows. And the carvings tell a story that spans more than 10,000 years.
The petroglyphs are, in Hubler-Dayton’s words, “a living, speaking record of prehistoric religion, history, and thought.”
“Jeffers is a sacred site first and foremost,” he says. “It’s a holy place for many North American tribes, including Dakota and other Siouan people. I feel like I am most accountable to these tribe in my work, and I don’t do anything without the permission of tribal elders.”
Hubler-Dayton, who is pursuing a history major as well as an individual major, says that his experiences at St. Olaf have prepared him well to work at the Jeffers Petroglyphs. He participated in the Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program and did field work at the Antiochia Ad Cragum Site in Turkey through the Mediterranean Field School. He also presented his work at the North Plains History Conference, for which he received funding from the college.
As an individual major, Hubler-Dayton has found that “St. Olaf has been really supportive in all of my independent studies. And in the classes that I can take, I talk to my professors about how I can integrate Jeffers into my work.”
“What this project has taught me is that we need to preserve the earth and respect it from a spiritual, and civic duty,” says Hubler-Dayton.
“We have to be in this together, preserving what’s left ecologically, historically, and culturally.”