Daniel Maher

Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology

 

Daniel Maher has taught cultural anthropology and sociology since 1990. He attended graduate school at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., and taught for five years in the St. Louis metro area. He joined the faculty here in 1997.

 

Since arriving in Fort Smith, he has been the recipient of the Mayor's Multicultural Award, the Lucille Speakman Excellence in Teaching Award and the honors organization's Mentor of the Year Award. In addition to teaching for UAFS, he has also been the director of the Fort Smith Multicultural Center.

 

Topics

 

Mythic Wild West Frontiers

Popular concepts of the Wild West are inaccurate representations of the historical west. This presentation will detail how the “Wild West” came to be constructed in the United States and why it persists.

 

Fort Smith: A Bicentennial of Mythic Frontier Imaginary

Contrary to popular sentiment, Fort Smith was not located here in 1817 to “keep the peace between the Indians.” This presentation will detail how Fort Smith was used as a tool for manifest destiny and economic privilege.

 

Judge Isaac C. Parker, the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, and the Use of Power in the Frontier Heritage Imaginary

Little is known about the person Isaac Parker and what is popularly discussed belongs to the domain of myth. This presentation will provide essential historical facts and context that reframe Parker’s career and emphasize the use of the District Court in making Oklahoma statehood inevitable.

 

Bass Reeves, Ned Christie, Zeke Proctor, and the use of Race in Frontier Heritage Imaginary

While popular narratives abound on these three figures, basic historical facts and context are seldom offered for consideration. This presentation will explain how the misrepresentation of these figures leads to the silencing of overt and institutional racism.

 

Miss Laura’s Girls, Belle Starr, and the use of Gender in Frontier Heritage Imaginary

Mythic narratives of “brave men” and “wild women” abound in Fort Smith. The historical facts and context portray a more complex situation. This presentation will discuss how gender is used in heritage narratives to legitimate white male hegemony on the mythic frontier.

 

Performing Frontier Tourism

“Hanging Judge” Parker, “Invincible” Marshal Reeves, “Madam” Laura, “Amazon” Belle: each of these represents a mythic trope of the frontier that creates an image of the past, not a historical description of it. This presentation will detail how the city of Fort Smith has consciously crafted conceptions of its frontier past to sell to tourists.

 

The Wager of Cultural Heritage Tourism

The U. S. Marshals Museum failed in Oklahoma City in 1989, failed in Laramie in 2001, and has been struggling to get off the ground in Fort Smith since 2003. This presentation will examine the challenges faced by the cultural heritage tourism industry today in a post-industrial economy.