Friday, February 06, 2009

Indigenous and Ethnic Studies

Graduate students at my department at UCSD are right now working on a Ethnic Studies and Indigenous Studies symposium to take place in May of this year. This symposium is part of a long process over the past few years which includes last year's interdisciplinary conference Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World that I helped organize, an Indigenous Studies cluster hire that I helped write two years ago, and the Voicing Indigeneity Podcast that I used to help create with two other indigenous students in the department. The goal of the process was to create a more stable and productive space for those working on indigenous studies projects within Ethnic Studies.
For the upcoming symposium the organizers are looking to invite old scholars, new scholars and some graduate students who are all doing work at the intersections of these two discplines, either in their activism or in their academic work. I'm sure I'll have more details soon and there's also a good chance that I'll fly out to attend this conference.

For those interested in these sorts of discussions, American Quarterly, the flagship journal of American Studies, plans to do a special issue on the intersections of American Studies and Indigenous Studies. The deadline for submission of papers is September 1, 2009 for those who'd like to submit.

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American Quarterly Call for Papers
Alternative Contact: Indigeneity, Globalism, and American Studies
Paul Lai and Lindsey Claire Smith, Guest Editors

Within standard genealogies, Native studies and other racially based studies arose from a similar moment of empowerment in the struggles for racial and ethnic rights in the 1960s and 1970s, often in solidarity with Third World decolonization movements. Increasingly, Native American studies highlights connections between Native America and indigenous communities around the world, reframing questions of sovereignty and indigenous rights in international terms while continuing to challenge political discourses of the nation-state. Such work decenters paradigms of first contact with European colonial powers and subsequent domination by the United States military and government that have overshadowed discussions of native contact with peoples of other origins. This special issue explores transnational and cross-ethnic flows among indigenous peoples of the Americas, including the Caribbean and Pacific Islands, and these other peoples.

Such moments of alternative contact complicate and enrich our understanding of the links between U.S. colonial and imperial projects, sovereignty, and racial formation. Ultimately, this project seeks to theorize a more dynamic indigeneity that articulates new or overlooked connections among peoples, histories, cultures, and critical discourses within a global context.

We seek work that theorizes cosmopolitan indigeneities as the transnational movements of indigenous peoples and their governments, social and activist movements, arts, and critical discourse. We seek scholarship that identifies moments of contact among indigenous Americans and ethnic others in historically, geographically, and disciplinarily specific conjunctures and that highlights the dissonances as well as synergies produced by reconfiguring comparative ethnic studies work within the frameworks of transnational American studies and global indigenous movements. This work might offer new languages for discussing the global presence of indigeneity to counteract notions of unsophisticated or parochial Native communities and offer alternatives or rejoinders to the work of postcolonial studies by considering issues of continuing (neo)colonialism and the relation between indigenous peoples and state formations.

Framing such scholarship within globalism might build upon a long tradition in Latino/a studies of examining indigenous encounters with others and mixed-race subjectivities, query long-standing tensions between Asian Americans and native Pacific Islanders, and continue exploring histories of Native and African American connections. Additionally, we encourage submissions of papers that theorize less-studied contact, such as between Native American and Asian American bodies, communities, histories, literatures, visual arts, and politics. In these material and creative encounters, personal, political, collective, and global conceptions of sovereignty and citizenship point toward theoretical as well as practical implications for resisting empire.
Email essays by September 1, 2009, to aquarter@usc.edu. Information about American Quarterly and submission guidelines can be found on our Web site: www.americanquarterly.org.

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