Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium





Martha Norkunas,

Martha Norkunas holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University's Folklore Institute. She is the author of The Politics of Public Memory: Tourism, History and Ethnicity in Monterey, California (SUNY Press, 1993), which won the 1994 Historic Preservation Book, and Monuments and Memory: History and Representation in Lowell, Massachusetts (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002/ Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2006) which was awarded Honorable Mention from the Women's Section of the American Folklore Society in 2003. She is the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, grants from the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the L.J. and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Innovation Award from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Summerlee Foundation and the Houston Endowment.

From 1988-89 she was the Gardner scholar-in-residence for the Shifting Gears project in Massachusetts, documenting how the meaning of work changed from 1920-1980.  For five years served as the Cultural Affairs Director at the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission where she oversaw a wide range of cultural initiatives to interpret labor and ethnicity in the industrial city.  She has worked with museums, historic sites, and public humanities projects on issues of on memory, gender, and the representation of minority voices. She has also been involved in oral history projects on industrial and labor history, immigration, racial identity, and gender.  She is on the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, teaching interdisciplinary teams of graduate students to think critically about memory and history, and to apply their knowledge to social and cultural issues.

In 1999 Norkunas began the Project in Interpreting the Texas Past (ITP) to shed new light on the Texas and American past by researching, interpreting and presenting the histories of women and minority communities.  ITP has produced award winning films, exhibits, educational material, posters, brochures, and online exhibits. ITP is an initiative of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Consortium. Consonant with the IE philosophy of creating "citizen scholars," ITP offers students the opportunity to do work that produces academic knowledge while simultaneously contributing to the community. Interpreting the Texas Past provides a blueprint for a new type of academic: intellectual entrepreneurs--scholars who connect with society, put research to work and make education more responsive and accountable.

In 2004, working with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Norkunas began the African American Texans Oral History Project. The goals of the project are to come to a deeper appreciation of the important events, values, and intellectual perspectives in the lives of African Americans in Austin, and to examine the importance of race and racial identity in America.  There are currently over 180 hours of recorded interviews, which have all been transcribed and excerpted.  A second oral history project was begun in 2007, to record focused interviews with University of Texas students as they describe how race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality have impacted their identity.


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