Earlier Work

A Journey Upstream Film Project (2010-2014)

A Journey Upstream: The Past and Presence of an “Extinct” People (Trailer) from Erica Kowsz on Vimeo.

First as an undergraduate student, then as Fulbright visiting researcher at Simon Fraser University, directed, shot, produced, and edited the documentary film, A Journey Upstream: The Past and Presence of an ‘Extinct’ People. I learned so much from my research engagements and time spent in southern British Columbia and northeast Washington. This project set me on the path toward trying to understand the role that our understandings of the past play in the present, in ways both personal and political.

Critical Heritage Studies and Masters in Anthropology (2012-2015)

Cultural Heritage in European Societies and Spaces (CHESS) was a fieldwork methods training program in the Anthropology Department at UMass Amherst from 2010-2018. CHESS was a National Science Foundation funded training program in the tradition of the European Field Studies program at UMass Amherst (with roots tracing back to the 1960s). To learn more about CHESS, check out the alumni video testimonials I directed, produced, and edited for the program in 2016. As a part of my own experience in CHESS in 2016, I participated in the workshop “Social Justice and Changing Forms of Value” at the University of Barcelona, was a visiting researcher at the Centre for Sami Studies at UiT in Tromsø, Norway, and completed preliminary fieldwork in Norway and Finland.

CHESS Ethnographic Field Methods Training (2015-2017)

During my Masters in Anthropology at UMass Amherst, I completed an independent research project based on fieldwork in British Columbia, Canada, and published the results in a special issue of the Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage. As a Masters student, I was very involved with the Center for Heritage & Society at UMass Amherst. I was the Editorial Administrator for the center’s academic journal Heritage & Society from 2013-2016 and presented my research-in-progress at the center’s annual conference in 2014 and 2015. During these years, I was also Graduate Associate with the Intellectual Property in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH), an international project funded by a grant from the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council. In 2017, I completed a Graduate Certificate in Cultural Landscape Management at UMass. Heritage studies remains an area of interest for me. These early experiences spurred me to seek further training in ethnographic methods and semiotics in order to be able to better specify the role of the past in the present and the role of the present context in shaping what we think we know about the past.