The Collaborative for Southern Appalachian and Place-Based Studies is delighted to announce the selection of new Mellon Fellows Margo Shea (post-doctoral) and Chandler Sowden (post-baccalaureate). Both will begin their work with the Collaborative in July.


Margo Shea comes to the Collaborative from Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, a place steeped in history and grappling with the significance of its past in the present and for the future. As Assistant Professor of Public History, Margo has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in public history, local history and heritage, museums and urban history as well as a slate of courses in the general education curriculum. She coordinated the internship program for the History Department and built partnerships with students and various collaborators around key themes, including developing community on campus, amplifying the voices of new immigrants in the region, developing strong relationships with practitioner public historians and engaging the legacy of Salem’s witch hysteria in order to advocate for social justice today.

Trained in public history, cultural geography and the study of memory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Margo’s graduate work focused primarily on history and memory of a place complicated enough to warrant two separate names, Derry and Londonderry, Northern Ireland. After documenting the city’s memorial landscape, she became intrigued in the memories and histories that do not get marked in the landscape or whose mark fades over time; this led to doctoral work on the history of nationalist/Catholic community memory in Derry from the turn of the twentieth century through the Troubles. A manuscript based on her doctoral dissertation is currently under review with Notre Dame Press.  She has published in various journals and anthologies on topics related to memory and place and writes regularly about these issues on her blog: www.theflickeringlamp/org.

Margo also brings experience and expertise in community economic development, service-learning and campus-community partnership building to the Collaborative.  She reports that she is excited to come to the Collaborative because the model it seeks to develop is innovative and equally dedicated to both ideas and to practical and lasting social, economic and environmental change in the region. The Collaborative’s emphasis on honoring and building on the diverse strengths and capacities of its affiliates makes it a place with which she is glad to be associated.  She is looking forward to settling in, getting familiar with the area and meeting the people that call it home during her time with the Collaborative.


Sowden Headshot

Chandler Sowden, returning to Sewanee after graduating in 2014, brings to the Collaborative the breadth of her liberal arts education including the ways of thinking and skills she gained as an Anthropology major and her expertise in documentary photography. During her time as a student at the university, Chandler worked in the surrounding area in Tennessee as well as rural Haiti, researching and implementing various discussion-based photographic methods for building resilience in communities. Through this work, she developed a vested interest in and understanding of the ways photography can be used to generate discussions within a community and to provide a way of seeing situations that can only be achieved through photographic imagery. Crucial to Chandler’s time and learning in these projects was close collaboration with community members, fellow students, and Sewanee faculty, who all worked together to create, discuss, and refine all projects methods.

Most recently, Chandler has spent a year interning at the FrameWorks Institute, a MacArthur Foundation award-winning non-profit communications organization focused on social science-based research methods for reframing experts’ research findings for more productive public understanding of key social issues. As an intern, she was able to work with three departments within the Institute—Research, Learning, and Production—and brings from that a better understanding of where framing recommendations come from, how to implement them, and how visual aids can be used to enhance public understanding.

In joining the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian and Place Based Studies, Chandler hopes to explore further the ways narrative, specifically in photographic form, can inform and shift a community’s understanding of itself, and shape a more constructive and true way of seeing for those on the outside looking in. Having worked with members of Sewanee, the university, and surrounding communities, Chandler looks forward to working with those she has connected with before as well as developing relationships with those she has yet to meet.