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March 3 – 7, 2024

Toward Political Relationalities / Sovereign Ecologies: Critical Indigenous Studies Perspectives on Political-Ecological Dilemmas

Co-chaired by Clint Carroll, Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies/Native American Indigenous Studies, University of Colorado Boulder & Dana E. Powell, Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of Humanities in Medicine, Taipei Medical University/Affiliate Researcher, College of Indigenous Studies, National Dong Hwa University (Taiwan).

This seminar brings anthropology, political ecology, and critical Native American and Indigenous Studies into proximity to advance an emergent field of theory, investigation, and ethical praxis that centers the complexity of Indigenous experience while noting the urgency of rapid environmental change in Indigenous North America. Although anthropology and political ecology increasingly attend to matters of climate change and environmental ruin, a gap remains between seeing Indigenous cultures as objects of ethnographic concern and Indigenous epistemologies as sites of theoretical and methodological innovation. Our seminar thus seeks to analyze intersecting themes of coloniality and nature, relationality and materiality, and Indigenous futurisms, guided by four central questions regarding natural resource governance: 1) How does Indigenous lived experience of settler colonialism and climate change impact how we understand contestations over natural resources? (2) What is similar and different in the U.S. and Canadian settler states in relation to Indigenous struggles over territories, plant and animal species, waterways, airways, and minerals? (3) How do critical Indigenous studies approaches to political ecology differ theoretically and methodologically from those practiced in non-settler state contexts, as well as those that scholars may carry out in such contexts while not accounting for Indigenous legal and political status within them? (4) How does attentiveness to materiality differ in Indigenous political ecology, given the historically and culturally particular relations of Native people to plants, animals, and other “objects,” potentially challenging recent turns in post-humanist scholarship?

Engaging these questions and themes, internationally recognized scholars based in the U.S. and Canada working at the intersections of political ecology and Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) broadly will prepare papers that center their research on the effects of environmental change in the colonial contexts where they work. Participants will present core ideas and findings during the seminar, enabling a comparative and trans-local discussion and analysis to emerge. The aim is to establish generative connections between political ecology and NAIS by identifying types of experiences in which the unique conditions of Indigenous governance/sovereignty, ontology/epistemology, and coloniality/decoloniality are foundational to apprehending the ecological, cultural, and political hazards of climate change.

1-25-24 Seminar Group
From L to R: Martin Lamotte, Sharon Rider, Heather Howard, Sophie Chao, Don Kulick, Norma Mendoza-Denton, Mary Weismantel, Michel Naepels, Karen Nakamura, Timothy Pachirat.
January 21 – 25, 2024

An Analytics of Vulnerability

Co-chaired by Don Kulick (Uppsala University) & Michel Naepels (EHESS)

Vulnerability is undergoing re-evaluation in philosophy, the social sciences and the humanities, and has emerged as a key concept in anthropology. From having been perceived as a condition from which subjects should be liberated, vulnerability has increasingly come to be theorized as a position or experience that invites the possibility to extend theory and understandings of ethics. Consideration of vulnerability compels attention to scale, perspective, tactics, experience, structure, power, engagement and species. These features suggest that vulnerability might best be approached not in terms of a single a coherent theory that attempts to quantify it, or propose typologies. Instead, it may be more productive to apprehend vulnerability through what Foucault called an “analytics”. This seminar brings together scholars from several disciplines to discuss the co-existence of different ideas about vulnerability and to facilitate their sharing, in order to devise new ways of apprehending both human and non-human vulnerability.