Editor's Note: Possession

Choosing the theme for each issue of Oregon Humanities is usually an emergent process. We start by talking about the ideas we’ve been chewing on as a staff and the topics of our upcoming programs. Then we free-associate words until we can’t think of any more, cross out the ones we don’t like, and mull over the ones we do for a few weeks. And then I pick one and write a call for submissions.

This issue is a little different. Last August, Sal Sahme sent in a draft of a wide-ranging essay on doctrine, religion, psychology, and European colonialism. Earlier in 2020, Sal had kindly and generously advised me on a grant proposal I was writing and pushed me to consider tough questions about settlement, sovereignty, and conquest. His essay, “Lies of Discovery,” continues that conversation, probing the origins of how European settlers came to believe the world was up for the taking and asking how the damage stemming from that belief can begin to be undone. I knew immediately I wanted to publish Sal’s essay and set about thinking of a theme that would suit it.

In this issue, six writers consider what it means to possess places, things, and rights: How do we come to possess? What responsibilities does possession require? How are we affected when we lose possessions, or have them stolen, or stripped away?


Oregon Humanities, Magazine, Editor


1 comments have been posted.

Very dense, complex article roves, to me at least, how little Americans know of history--of their own country. At 88 yrs. difficult to read due to type not dark enough. Sad about my limitations.... portland

Naomi Bloom | May 2021 | portland Oregon

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Also in this Issue

From the Director: The Great Divide

Editor's Note: Possession

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Lies of Discovery

Who's Being Left Out?

Can the Land Make Us One People?


Where We Store Shame

The Things We Carry


People, Places, Things

Discussion Questions and Further Reading