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 Renae Watchman 


Greetings! My name is Renae Watchman and I am Diné (Navajo). I am of the Bitter Water People, born for the Towering House People. My maternal grandfather was Cherokee from Tahlequah, OK, (from the Bird Clan), and my paternal grandfather was from the Red Running Through the Water Clan. I am originally from Shiprock, NM and didn’t venture much past the Diné Nation and local border towns in my youth. I attended Navajo Academy, which is now Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington, NM, where I graduated in 1992. In 1990-91, I was selected to be a foreign exchange student, and resided with a host family in Rellingen, Germany for one year. This life-changing experience piqued my interest for travel and for appreciating where I come from.



I am an associate professor of English, cross-appointed with Indigenous Studies at Mount Royal University, where I teach North American Indigenous Literatures (NAILs) and Film courses (contemporary, global, and Indigenous). Teaching at MRU is rewarding. I have the liberty to teach what the students have expressed an interest in, and I have been able to implement my life-long experiences in developing new courses for English, Indigenous Studies and General Education. Over the past five years, I have taught such courses as: “North American Indigenous Women Writers,” “The Native American Literary Renaissance” (note the quotes), “4th World Literature and Film,” “From Stereotypes to Sovereignty,” “Introduction to Indigenous Studies: International Perspectives,” and “Indigenous Resistance” (Red Power movements & contemporary activism). Finally, at MRU, I am part of the Film Studies core and have taught the following courses: “Studies in Film: Documenting Human Rights,” in which I collaborated with the development and implementation of this course with my colleague Dr. Michael Truscello. Other film courses I have taught are: "Contemporary Film & Theory,” “The Aboriginal Experience through Film and Literature,” and “Film Genres: The Road Movie.”

In the Spring/Summer semester of 2014, I took 18 students to Germany along the famous: “Fairy Tale Road” as part of an International Field School. Prior to bringing them to Germany, their in-class, on MRU campus preparation included completing two courses: “Indigenous & European folklore: Fairy Tales” and “Fairy Tales on Film.”

Another interesting course in development, with my colleague Dr. Liam Haggarty, is also an International Field School: “Indigenous Hawai’i: Kanaka Maoli: Aina, Aloha, & Annexation.” We are finalizing the course curriculum and this field school will also incorporate two courses in addition to a service-learning component for credit during the Summer 2016 semester.

I am on sabbatical for the academic year 2015-16, where I will work on a book manuscript that looks at the displacement of Indigenous stories and their connection to land, landscape and monoliths in visual media.



I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of German Studies, jointly with the Graduate Program in Humanities from Stanford University in 2007. My dissertation was titled “Fictionalizing the Indigenous in German Travel Literature,” which examined late 18th and early 19th century scientific texts that muted, ignored, and silenced the knowledges of Indigenous peoples during this era of travel. As such, my work and research interests remain transdisciplinary, and include: North American Indigenous Literatures, History and Culture (all eras), Global Indigenous Literatures and Film, Indigenous Feminisms, Comparative Literature, Orality, (Post-/neo-) colonialism & decolonizing literature, Globalization of Native American Powwows and Powwow Phenomena, and Film Studies (Contemporary, Global, and Indigenous).


Community Service

A key component to Indigenous Studies is reciprocity. For all of my courses in Indigenous Studies, there is always a required “Service Learning” component. My own recent service learning includes my participation in two separate community work days on Oahu: at Ho’oulu ‘Aina and at Papahana Kualoa, June 2015. In 2011, I was a juror for the Dreamspeakers Film Festival. As a volunteer jury member, I previewed 80+ Aboriginal films, shorts, documentaries, and music videos for their annual Film Festival held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I consider community service crucial and I look to seek more opportunities to give back.


Selected Publications and Papers

  • Response: "Imagining Beyond Images and Myths” in Learn, Teach, Challenge: Indigenous Literatures in the 21st Century. Forthcoming, contracted Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2015/16.
  • “Afterword” in Tribal Fantasies: Native Americans in the European Imagination 1900-present. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2013.
  • “Powwow Overseas: The German Experience” in Powwow. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. 2005.
  • "Circles of Friendship: Indigenous Hosts and European Travelers." Theatrum historiae: International Seminar for Junior Eighteenth Century Scholars. 2009.
  • Diné (Navajo) Stories and Landscape Dislocated in Major Motion Pictures, NAISA 2015 conference paper.


Selected Lectures

  • “Powwowthusiasm” Presented at Aboriginal Authors Write Back, invited lecture for Hartmut Lutz, Killam Visiting Scholar at the University of Calgary, 2012.


Broadcast Interviews

  • August 2015. “Tipi, Tanz, u. Totempfahl: Die Hobby Indianer.” http://reportage.mdr.de/hobbyindianer#2465
  • October 2013. "Wild West Shows gestern und heute (yesterday and today)." On Kultur Welle: http://kulturwelle.hu-berlin.de/grenzgaenge-zwischenmensch-und-tier/, by Rausch, M.
  • July 2009. "Revision Quest." Episode: "Indianthusiasm." Broadcast on CBC Radio.


Selected Honors, Awards and Distinctions

  • "Mount Royal University Effective Team Award". CAD $1,500. Conferred by Mount Royal University. 2015, June 11.
  • "FoTL Scholars Council Award". CAD $2,000. Conferred by Faculty of Teaching and Learning. 2014, September - 2015, April.
  • "Faculty of Arts Outstanding Team Award". CAD $600. Conferred by Faculty of Arts, Mount Royal University. 2015, February.
  • "Student funding for the Germany Field School". CAD $12,000. Conferred by Campus Alberta Grant for International Learning. 2014, June.
  • "Faculty of Arts Innovation Fund". CAD $3,500. Conferred by MRU Faculty of Arts. 2014, January -April.
  • Fellowship: "Die Entwicklung von interkultureller Kompetenz im Kontext (EIKK) DaF: Lernziele, didaktische Ansätze und Evaluierung" (Germany). Conferred by Herder-Institut der Universität Leipzig. 2009, June-August.
  • "German American Friendship Award of the German Ambassador." Conferred by Consulate of Germany in Arizona. University of Arizona, 2008.
  • Fellowship: "Predoctoral Research Fellow." Conferred by Stanford University. 2001 - 2005.
  • Award: "John Milton Oskison Writing Award, Native American Cultural Center." Conferred by Stanford University. 2005


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