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Indigenous Challenges and Opportunities in Canada and Brazil

2013/10/12

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Presenter 1 (Canadian): Sean Meades (Glendon/York) Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig

Reclaiming selves, re-centring relationships: Cultivating epistemic pluralism at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig

Canada’s Indian Residential Schools, active throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, enacted a policy of cultural genocide aiming to strip indigenous children of their languages, cultures, and traditional knowledge (Miller 1996). In the wake of the damage perpetuated by the schools upon indigenous civilizations, many communities and nations are mobilizing to take control of their own education. In that tradition, Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig (SKG) is an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) controlled post-secondary institutions tasked with recovering that which was lost throughout the residential school era. With a focus on decolonized, Anishinaabe-centred approaches to curriculum, pedagogy, and leadership development, SKG is still remarkable for the multicultural makeup of its classrooms. Without falling back on either appeasement or guilt, instructors emphasize the place of belonging offered every person within Anishinaabe philosophical frameworks. Through its contributions to advancing epistemic and ontological pluralism, SKG leads students to reconceptualise approaches to identity embedded within the western academic tradition, and fundamentally calls into question assumptions about our relationship to the state, and to each other.

Miller, J.R. (1996). Shingwauk’s vision: A history of native residential schools. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Presenter 2 (Canadian): Jessica Jacobson-Konefall (Queen’s) Terril Calder’s Repercussions: Indigenizing the Civic Archive

Metis artist Terril Calder’s stop-motion animation Repercussions treats the intersections between audiovisual literacy and civic culture in Canada through an Indigenous lens. In this vein, transnational literacies emerge through Calder’s work in her aesthetic surpassing of epistemic limits. Calder, using marionette puppets, portrays Indigenous figures interacting with psychic, archival, and material civic spaces. Repercussions treats these spaces in an audiovisual movement of Indigenous cultural resurgence—“enabling at once the epistemic limit of an existing set of conditions to become palpably perceptible, marked off in their historical particularity” (Chow 19), and surpassed. Within this general framing I am discussing Repercussions in terms of transnational literacy via three key themes: capture, captivation, and civic archive.

I am interested in how questions of transnational literacy intersect with ubiquitous image-capture and audiovisual captivation in the continuous reframing of the civic archive, and the making of new realities. My understanding of literacy has been vexed with the notion of interpretation figured as the demystifying of the given. This assumption of “giveness” across agonistic social histories and relationships attends practices and understandings of cross-cultural hermeneutics in potentially violent ways. In the context of Canada as a settler nation, and Indigenous decolonization, Indigenous artistic practices of image-capture and captivation together creatively contend with such practices and understandings. Calder’s work explores aesthetic civic consciousness focusing on the social geography of Canadian cities, the relationality of Indigenous peoples and settlers in Canadian cities, and Indigenous media aesthetics as practices of cultural resurgence in the settler city. Repercussions engages the practice of civic literacy in the domain of new media, supporting the emergence of a transnational civic archive, and enabling the productive reframing and resurgence of Indigenous epistemologies of civic space.

Works Cited

Chow, Rey. “When Reflexivity Becomes Porn: Mutations of a Mondernist Theoretical Practice.” Entanglements, Or, Transmedial Thinking About Capture. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012. Print.

BIO: Jessica Jacobson-Konefall is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada. Her research focuses on how Indigenous new media art shapes and defies notions of identity and community in Canadian cities. She teaches in the English Department at the University of Winnipeg, and her work has been published in journals such as Extensions: The Online Journal of Embodiment and Technology and AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples. She has forthcoming book chapters in The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies and Transforming Our Practices: American Indian Art, Pedagogies, and Philosophies.

Presenter 3: Jamille Pinheiro Dias Ph.D. candidate in Modern Languages University of São Paulo

In times of bloody land disputes between indigenous groups and cattle ranchers, loggers, miners and agribusiness lobbyists supported by federal authorities, the teaching of indigenous history and culture – made compulsory in Brazil by the Law 11.645/2008 – should be regarded as one of the most pressing issues in the curriculum in the country. In this gloomy and paradoxical scenario, there are indigenous-focused films that might enable viewers to look critically at the ways in which indigenous peoples are portrayed in mainstream media. This presentation will address some of the challenges faced by, and possibilities brought about by, “The Hyperwomen” (2011) and “Xapiri” (2012), two award-winning pictures shot among specific communities of the Carib-speaking Kuikuro – inhabiting the upper reaches of the Xingu River in Mato Grosso – and the Tupi-speaking Yanomami – living in Roraima, in the Northwest Amazon. How do these films featuring shamanism and ritual explore territories that move beyond ethnographic documentary bounds, pointing to something other than fiction or nonfiction modes?  Additionally, to what extent can they crosscut bodily senses and conceptual frameworks in a way that might help one unlearn assumptions and expectations forged by national and developmentalist concerns? Rather than explain shamanism and ritual, “The Hyperwomen” and “Xapiri” translate in both content and form the dynamics of such Amerindian practices through experimentation with the visible and the invisible, the audible and the inaudible. Each in its own particular way, these films engage us with different “real worlds” rather than “imaginary ways of ‘seeing the world'” (Viveiros de Castro 2004), providing us with an opportunity to rethink and reframe audiovisual literacy in relation to indigenous peoples in the 21st century.

Debater 1: Lynn Mario Menezes de Sousa (USP)

Open Discussion

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