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James A. Owen

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Assistant Director, Institute of Native American Studies
Graduate Alumnus, history

James Owen is Assistant Director to the Institute of Native American Studies. His interdisciplinary work engages with indigenous language revitalization, ethnomusicology, ethnobotany, and ethnozoology, as well as American religious history. He researches indigenous and creole language documents from the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, with a focus on native interpretations of Christian hymns and biblical narratives. He writes about the ways indigenous and creole language hymns reflect indigenized Christian faiths. His work demonstrates that knowledge shared in multi-ethnic mission communities shaped evangelical Christianity in the Americas. He teaches US History and Native American Studies courses and is Assistant Director of UGA's Institute of Native American Studies. He has held fellowships with the Newberry Library and the American Musicological Society. Prior to his current term at UGA, he was Visiting Assistant Professor at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, where he taught Indigenous Studies, and Native American & US History courses. James was a research assistant for the Invasion of America interactive digital map. His article "Come Holy Spirit, Lord God: The Holy Ghost in the Cherokee Mountains" appears in Seeking Home: Marginalization and Representation in Appalachian Literature and Song. 

Dissertation/Thesis Title:
Singing the Holy Spirit: Hymn-Singing, Language, and Community Among Lokono Arawaks, Cherokees, and Jamaican Slaves, 1740-1840
Degree Completion Date:

 Ph.D. US and Caribbean History/ Native American Studies, University of Georgia. Dissertation title: “’To Kindle a Flame of Sacred Love’: German Hymnody Among Arawaks, Cherokees, and Jamaican Slaves, 1738-1838.” Advisor: Claudio Saunt. 2019. 

M.A. US History/ Cherokee Studies, Western Carolina University. Advisor: Andrew Denson.2012. 

Apprenticeship in Publishing, University of Georgia Press, Zell Miller Papers, Acquisitions and Manuscript editorial staff assistant. May – July, 2019. 

Apprenticeship in Printmaking, 16th-20th century techniques & materialsHand-Cranked Letter Press, Lark Books, Asheville, NC. Lance Willie. 2003-2006. 

Journeyman Mason, architectural ceramics, Kossler Architectural Ceramics, Asheville, NC. Heinz Kossler. 1998-2003. 

B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies: Art, Music, and Culture. Appalachian State University.1996.

Events featuring James A. Owen
The Globe

Join us at The Globe as we workshop James Owen's "'From My Heart, Because of Your Tears':  Hymn-singing and Arawak Language Translation, 1738-1815," which tells the story of a multi-ethnic mission community in Berbice and the translation of Christian hymn-lyrics in the terms of the indigenous cosmology. Come prepared with comments, suggestions, and criticisms. Bar…

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