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Philosophy Speakers: Molecular Death and Redface Reincarnation: Indigenous Appropriations in the US and Canada

Date & Time:
November 30, 2018 | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Science B building, room 144
Kim Tallbear, University of Alberta

About the Talk

This talk traces discourses of Indigenous life, death, and vanishing as they unfold in genome science and other cultural fields in which Indigeneity is consumed for the benefit of settler-colonial society. Definitions of Indigeneity and who is able to claim it are co-constituted with settler claims to biological and cultural patrimony. For half a millennia colonial powers have claimed ownership and control of land and “natural resources.” Academic disciplines developed in ways that support such claims. More recently, settler-colonial claims of ownership extend to Indigenous peoples’ DNA, symbols, and representations. This talk attends to dominant definitions and representations of Indigeneity that privilege individual human ancestry, history, and agency over Indigenous collectivity co-constituted with other-than-human relations in place. Settler definitions of Indigeneity override in the popular imagination Indigenous Peoples’ own definitions of peoplehood. The individualizing and new genomic constitution of Indigeneity also undercuts the salience of Indigeneity as a category for mobilizing peoples who resist the assimilative state. Instead, individualistic and genetically essentialist settler definitions of Indigeneity assist the settler state in appropriating Indigeneity within the national body, a final ultimate claim of ownership.    

About the Speaker

Kim TallBear is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta, and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience & Environment. She is also a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Fellow. Dr. TallBear is the author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science. She is a regular commentator in US, Canadian, and UK media outlets on issues related to Indigenous peoples, science, and technology. Building on her research on the role of technoscience in settler colonialism, Dr. TallBear also studies the colonization of Indigenous sexuality. She is a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.

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