I received my bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Colorado College and graduate degrees in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Chicago. I have published on the representation of Native American cultures and identities in North American literature, scholarship, film, art, museums, sports events, legislation, social movements, and youth organizations. My current research concerns the role that 20th-century youth organizations played in the development of racialized and gendered U.S. citizens.
I am the author of American Indians and the American Imaginary: Cultural Representation Across the Centuries (2012) and Captive Selves, Captivating Others: The Politics and Poetics of Colonial American Captivity Narratives (1999). I am also co-editor (with Sergei Kan) of New Perspectives on Native North America: Cultures, Histories, Representations (2006). My articles appear in journals and edited volumes in the fields of anthropology, American Studies, cultural studies, folklore, gender studies, history, humanities, indigenous studies, media studies, museum studies, and sports studies.
Since 2008 I have directed the University of Texas Humanities Institute, which offers a variety of programs for interdisciplinary intellectual engagement across the campus and community. We are currently working to develop a Health Humanities program. I previously served as President of the Society for Cultural Anthropology, President of the Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center, and Councilor of the American Society for Ethnohistory. My university service includes chairing the Graduate Assembly and several Faculty Council committees. My community service includes former service as President and Director of the Board of the Balcones Council of Camp Fire USA.