"Southwest Studies allowed me to spend the first semester of my junior year at the Newberry Library in Chicago observing stereotypical representations of Indigenous peoples in their Route 66 vintage postcard collection. There, I saw how a singular “Indian” stereotype simplifies myriad distinct Indigenous cultures into a compressed caricature. Upon returning to campus, Southwest Studies allowed me to take this research to the road and drive the entirety of Route 66 (Chicago to LA), where I saw and photographed the same Indigenous stereotypes that were in the Newberry’s vintage postcard collection. Then, I was able to curate a gallery of images, postcards, and tchotchkes that I had been analyzing and collecting for almost two years as my Senior Capstone project. Southwest Studies gave me archival and field research experience as well as the ability to visually, thoroughly, and confidently present a topic I am truly passionate about."
Sarah Katsev '20
The Spanish Missions of California were built throughout the 1700s as a means to convert the Native people of California to Christianity. These places have been telling their settler-colonial histories from the perspective of the Spaniards ever since. Most Californian fourth graders still learn that settler-colonialism was good and useful for the culture of California. A lot of this information is put forth by the missions, which are still buildings operated by the Catholic church.
For my hands-on portion of my thesis, I designed some streetwear to put out the message that the Spanish missions are colonial spaces that still spew biased, pro-colonial histories. One of the pieces I made was to draw attention to Fr. Junipero Serra, an influential Spanish missionary who was canonized several years ago. Regardless of his canonization, Serra was part of the settler colonial system in California and was a huge proponent of the genocide that occurred. The Decolonize logo is a nod to the famous Supreme streetwear.