The American Indian Studies Program (AIS) at the University of Illinois welcomes Associate Professor Dustin Tahmahkera as its newest faculty member. Professor Tahmahkera, an enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, is an interdisciplinary scholar of North American indigeneities, critical media, and sound.
Professor Tahmahkera's first book Tribal Television: Viewing Native People in Sitcoms (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) foregrounds representations of the indigenous, including Native actors, producers, and comedic subjects, in U.S., First Nations, and Canadian television and other media from the 1930s to the 2010s within the contexts of federal policy and social activism. His current book project Comanches in the Media Borderlands (under contract with the University of Nebraska Press' "Indigenous Films" series) is a cultural history of real and reel Comanches' performative work onscreen and off in the production of what Professor Tahmahkera calls "Comanchería cinema." For more examples of his research on Comanche studies, see his articles "'We're Gonna Capture Johnny Depp!': Making Kin with Cinematic Comanches" in American Indian Culture and Research Journal (UCLA Press) and "Haaka tsa Kwitop Hahka?: Seeking Representational Jurisdiction in Comanchería Cinema" forthcoming in Native American and Indigenous Studies (University of Minnesota Press).
In addition to his work on Natives and film, he is working on a project entitled "Sounds Indigenous: Listening for Sonic Sovereignty in Indian Country" on the transnational and transtribal migrations of sound and music in indigenous homelands and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Portions of this project have appeared in his essay "Becoming Sound: Tubitsinakukuru from Mt. Scott to Standing Rock," which was published by the website Sounding Out! Earlier in his career, Professor Tahmahkera established himself as an authority on indigenous sound studies by publishing "'An Indian in a White Man’s Camp': Johnny Cash's Indian Country Music" in a special Sound issue of American Quarterly.
Alongside his scholarly endeavors, he currently serves on the Editorial Board of Cinema Journal, the official journal of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Professor Tahmahkera often consults on film projects, curates Indigenous film series, and writes curriculum guides (e.g., LaDonna Harris: Indian 101) for Vision Maker Media and PBS. He also has delivered invited talks, such as the 2017 annual Shaw Lecture in American Studies at Dickinson College, and recently completed a three-year term on the Community Advisory Board of KLRU, the Austin-based affiliate of PBS.
Professor Tahmahkera will be teaching courses on Native media studies, Indigenous sound, and he will be contributing to the AIS curriculum by offering various general education courses. "We are extremely fortunate to have such an accomplished and highly respected Native scholar on campus," remarked Director of American Indian Studies, Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, "whose research, teaching, and standing in the field will be a major asset to our program and university." Professor Tahmahkera most recently served as an Assistant Professor of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.