Eli Nelson

Eli Nelson

Assistant Professor of American Studies

Hollander Hall Rm 157




Eli Nelson (haudenosaunee/kanien’kehá:ka) teaches in the American Studies and Science and Technology Studies Programs. He is the Director of Research at the Center for Black, Brown, and Queer Studies. In addition to the history of Native science, Nelson works on Indigenous affect, science fiction and futurism, and gender and sexuality. His current book manuscript, Sovereign Knowledge: Native Informants, Settler Occupation, and the Becoming of Native Science, traces the origins of the late twentieth century Native science movement, wherein Indigenous scientists, scholars, activists, and politicians claimed authority and separatism from the settler state through purportedly reinterpreting Indigenous epistemologies as sciences. Nelson finds that the methods and orientations of Native science that formalized at this time, including but not limited to the rejection of boundary work and the insistence on a lateral relationship with objects of study, were not ancient practices merely rebranded. Rather, they were developed over the long Red Progressive era (mid-19th through mid- 20th century), when Indigenous knowledges, bodies, and subjects transitioned to interacting with settler sciences in new ways and with distinct archival traces in the wake of reservation confinement, assimilation policies, and boarding school education.


B.A. Shimer College, Natural Sciences (2012)
M.A. Harvard University, History of Science (2013)
Ph.D. Harvard University, History of Science (2018)

Areas of Expertise

Native American and Indigenous studies; critical Indigenous theory; Native science; settler science; Indigenous science fiction; Indigenous futurism; Black, Brown, and Queer theory; Indigenous affect; history of anthropology; history of ecology; science and religion

Scholarship/Creative Work


Professional Affiliations

  • Science and Technology Studies Advisory Board