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American Indian, indigenous studies scholar named distinguished professor

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

LAWRENCE – An influential scholar of American Indian and indigenous studies has joined the faculty of the University of Kansas as the Hall Distinguished Professor in American Literature and Culture.

Robert Warrior, an enrolled member of the Osage Nation, has authored or co-authored several books acclaimed as significant works from organizations including the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the Native American Literature Symposium. At KU, he holds a joint appointment in the departments of English and American Studies. He teaches courses and researches across many disciplines and specialties, including intellectual history, American literature, social movements, history, theory and comparative indigeneity. The distinguished professorship was held previously by Susan Harris in the Department of English.

“Robert Warrior brings a wealth of scholarship that helps us better understand the past, present and future of indigenous peoples,” said Carl Lejuez, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. “He will contribute greatly to enhancing KU’s profile in several areas as well as in our community more broadly. I am pleased to welcome him to our faculty.”

Warrior most recently served as a professor at the University of Illinois, where he was also director of the American Indian Studies Program. He is co-editor of Native American and Indigenous Studies journal, which will be housed within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. In 2009-’10, he served as the founding president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. He is currently president of the American Studies Association, following past president and KU colleague David Roediger, a Foundation Distinguished Professor in American studies and history.

Coming to KU is in some ways a homecoming for Warrior. He grew up in the Wichita area, graduating from Wichita Heights High School. He looks forward to interacting with programs at Haskell Indian Nations University, where several of his friends and former students have attended. Additionally, much of Kansas and specifically eastern Kansas are part of the traditional homeland of the Osage Nation.

“To have the opportunity to be here in what I think of as the heart of the Osage world is deeply meaningful to me,” Warrior said. “To be a faculty member at a really great university that is located within the boundaries of our traditional homeland, that’s exciting.”

Warrior holds a doctorate from Union Theological Seminary, a master's degree in religion from Yale University and a bachelor's degree in speech communication from Pepperdine University. As his research and teaching span a variety of disciplines, including literature and American studies, part of the attraction to KU is the tradition of interdisciplinarity in his new home departments.

“I’ve defined myself for my whole career as an Americanist who does literary studies. So, whenever there’s a group of people who feel the same way about me and my work, it’s a great match,” Warrior said.

Among Warrior’s published works are “The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction,” “American Indian Literary Nationalism,” “Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee” and “Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions.”

Joining Warrior at KU is his wife, Margaret Kelley, who will serve as associate professor of American studies. In her research, she uses a sociological perspective to investigate topics such as delinquency, health, gender, and drugs and alcohol. 

The departments of American Studies and English are part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, which is KU’s broadest and most diverse school.