What Hat Would You Be?

If you were a hat, what hat would you be?

I like the hat Mattie Ross wore in True Grit, stuffed with newspapers so the crease yields a mound.

And you? Are you a sailor’s gob? Nancy Drew’s fedora? Oliver Hardy’s bowler?

Hats bring to mind Wallace Stevens’ Poem “Six Significant Landscapes.” Imagine hats. Imagine scientists:

Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the door,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses–
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon–
Rationalists would wear sombreros

Stevens’ poem has become a trope of scientific reasoning. It’s meant to poke fun, and I like to think that scientists can see the playfulness of the poem

All of us get tucked into our own paradigms, making it hard to break free or try on a new hat.

And the poem makes me think of Western and Native science. What would happen if the scientists who sued to study Kennewick Man had to wear sombreros?

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About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. She is enrolled with the Osage tribe.
This entry was posted in authenticity, framing, Indian, Native Science, repatriation, science, science communication and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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