Anna Lehr Mueser

Wolf Humanities Center Graduate Fellow

20222023 Forum on Heritage

Anna Lehr Mueser

Ph.D. Candidate, History and Sociology of Science

Anna Lehr Mueser is a PhD candidate in the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work explores the intersections of collective memory and watershed management and development. Her dissertation, “Land After Technology” examines how collective memories and knowledge practices in the Catskill Mountains of New York have addressed, resisted, and incorporated the history of New York City’s watershed development in the twentieth century. She approaches themes including tacit knowledge, belonging and identity, place, resource development, state regulation through the lens of collective memory. In this context, she puts together conceptions of heritage, territorial belonging, and loss with environmental and technological development in the United States. Anna is also a book and paper artist, working in letterpress, book arts, cut paper, and watercolor engage with place knowledge and narrative. She has served on the volunteer board of The Soapbox, a West Philadelphia-based printmaking nonprofit, since 2014.

Land After Technology: Collective Memory and the New York City Water Supply

Between 1905 and 1965, New York City constructed a vast water supply system in the Catskill Mountains, spanning one hundred miles and providing ninety percentof the city’s water. In the process, more than twenty villages and hamlets were removed,and collective memories of these losses still loom large in the rural region. Focusing on what it has meant to live with and within the New York City watershed afterthe system was constructed, my dissertation explores the links between place-based collective memories and technological transformed landscapes. My research illuminates the ways in knowledges about the past and place are mobilized in the context in which a massive bureaucratic, technological, and environmental system over which its inhabitantshave relatively little voice.