Professor Michelle H. Raheja is the first recipient of the Emory Elliott Book Award, which she received for her innovative work in Reservation Reelism: Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film (2011). At a reception at UC Riverside hosted by the Center for Ideas and Society, Raheja graciously accepted the award, created in memory of her late colleague and fellow Early Americanist, Professor Emory Elliott.
Raheja´s Reservation Reelism explores the ambivalent attitudes surrounding filmic images of Native Americans. Her comprehensive analysis covers the Western form through more recent, grassroots filmmaking. Raheja notes that, ironically, early Hollywood films had more representations of Native Americans than later films and served as a savage screen onto which European Americans projected their fantasies. Her discussion of filmic images likewise probes the problematics of representing Native Americans within the trope of vanishing: as a people situated in the past, with no viable future. The term “reelism,” she explains, marks a placeholder for the everyday and that which is outside of heteronormative lifestyles and practices.
Citing a dream she had about Norway as the inspiration for her latest project and upcoming sojourn-a Fulbright fellowship in Norway, where she will research Sami filmmaking-Raheja describes the progression of her scholarship as serendipitous and meandering. The UC humanities community eagerly awaits the work Professor Raheja´s exciting new research project will produce.