About

Dana PowellI completed my undergraduate work at Guilford College earning a B.A. with Honors in Religious Studies. After seven years working with locally- and nationally-focused social and environmental justice groups based in Atlanta, I undertook graduate study in anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, working with Dorothy Holland and Arturo Escobar. With Holland, Escobar and other faculty and graduate students, I helped found the Social Movements Working Group (SMWG) in 2003 and with Holland in the same year, the Center for Integrating Research and Action (CIRA). I received external grants for graduate work and dissertation research from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, a Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Award, a Jacobs Fund Dissertation Fieldwork Award, and as a Fellow in UNC-CH’s Royster Society of Fellows. I completed my Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2011. I joined the faculty at Appalachian State University, where I designed the Anthropology Department’s program in Social Practice and Sustainability.

I have done ethnographic research in Chiapas, Mexico, in Beijing, China, and most extensively in the Navajo (Diné) Nation in the American Southwest, focusing on environmental movements around energy infrastructure. My first book, Landscapes of Power: Politics of Energy in the Navajo Nation, was published with Duke University Press in January, 2018.  Other papers relevant to my first project are available here. 

I value my long-term collaboration with Diné scholars and community-based intellectuals, who continue to help guide my work. In 2016, I accompanied colleagues to the NoDAPL encampments at Standing Rock, North Dakota, experiences I discuss in two forthcoming papers (one on whiteness and solidarity, the other on infrastructure and urbanity). The Standing Rock work was supported by grants from Appalachian State’s University Research Council and the Department of Anthropology’s Claassen Research Enhancement award.

In the summer of 2019, I am beginning a collaborative ethnography with Diné colleagues, exploring atmospheres of vulnerability and resilience in the Anthropocene, by looking at the entanglements of water and energy in riparian environments in the Navajo Nation. This work is supported by a Fellowship from Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities, a project development grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, a grant from the Appalachian State University Research Council, and with a research permit from the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department.

I look forward to deepening my work in environmental and energy humanities as a Fellow at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities in 2019-2020.