SAT NOTES: Indigenous Theory and the Black Radical Tradition
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Du Boisian Scholar Network, 2019 Convening
Session Notes
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Note Taker(s):Ricarda Hammer
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Email of Note taker(s):ricarda_hammer@brown.edu
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Date:Sat, May 4
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I. TopicsII. Summary CommentsIII. Action ItemIV. Date of First Contact/Follow UpV. Contact Lead Name(s)VI. Contact Lead Email
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Introductory remarksAloha – Tuti recognizes the complexities of what it means to congregate today on the lands of the Naraggansettt and Wampanoag People
What comes from the dialogue of BRT and indigenous theory?
Indigenous is an empty concept and it gets filled whenever it comes down to the ground, it is a grounded knowledge and a grounded practice
But how can we think of indigeneity as an organizing principle?
How can we embody today futures that are desired and productive?
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Introductory remarksBRT has to be unstable and contested, and has been a multi-century project
Reckoning of modernity and the centrality of the slave-trade and genocide and subjugation of non-European peoples
The BRT does not only include Du Bois but so many other anticolonial thinkers that have thought against the imperial epistemes
Let us think about the temporality: how do we think about the past, the present and its futurity?
The black radical tradition strikes across so many battles, from Angela Davis fighting for Prison abolition to the connections to Palestinian liberations movements
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The intention of the sessionLet us think about the linkages between BRT and indigenous theory, most importantly,
intimacy that arises from a common colonial encounter
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When Angela Davis came to Hawaii, she fit into the indigenous politics
When we think through violence and trauma in Hawaii, it strikes us as different to the traumas that blackness is subjected to on the continent
What can indigenous traditions offer to BRT? By asking how we productively turning away from the state, and that becomes complex when you turn away from the ocean, which is both a protective and a dangerous space
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Where is your homeland?[participants share stories about their journeys from this perspective]
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Thoughts coming from these storiesIt is revealing how settler colonialism and the middle passage has ripped us all from a world that is not human; and indigenous thought asks us to think about the relationship to that which is not human. And the state-structure wants us to be rootless.
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Where do you see the commonalities between BRT and indigenous theory in your work?Classes on: anti-indigeneity and anti-blackness that are foundational to all other racial projects in the US. And how can we think about schools as a liberatory space but also a disciplinary institute. In a social context where students don’t learn a lot of these histories, black people use many misunderstandings of indigenous history and vice versa – and that’s what makes it difficult to create a subversive solidarity.
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Between displacement and dispossession?Teaching from anticolonial solidarity, there is so little acknowledgment of the other story of indigenous people. Most of us told histories of displacement and not being able to find a homeland and indigenous theory exists in the relation to homeland and that dialogue has to be productive. Between displacement and dispossession, how do be build a different kind of imagination.
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Glen Coulthard comes up with this concept of “grounded normativity” and your ethical relationship to place is the starting point; but the pushback is the “use of normativity” because it keeps us stuck in a Marxist framework of a grounded normativity
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Many of us had troubles describing homeland, but the names on the map drifted away and this simple question took us outside the imperial episteme beyond the nation-centric framework
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I was drawn to this room because the people who are doing the work are indigenous people and black people and the strength and solidarity that can emerge from these conversations has so much potential – and both our traditions challenge whiteness and our relationship to the land is really helpful.
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Racialisation has made black people hypervisible and native people non-visible. The idea of building kinship and building relationships is central. Everyone has to read the article “Decolonization is not a metaphor”. And It is fine to recognize that our struggles might be in different places. There is a scarecity idea sometimes shapes our conversations, that there is not enough for everyone. Why is it that indigenous theory is not often insight the BRT? There may be parallel paths.Everyone has to read the article “Decolonization is not a metaphor”.
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Zapatistas: We want to live in a world where many worlds fit; and complexity is really the pedagogy we need.
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Thinking about Haiti: the Columbian devastation really first happens in Haiti, and the first reactions against the colonial encounter is a collaboration of Africans and the Taino – and that legacy of that can inform.
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What is the difference between theory and tradition?What is the difference between theory and tradition? Tradition invokes a way in which masses of people have actualized it and intellectuals have thought about it, there are various manifestations. In the book Black Radicalisms of the Future talks about class suicide and commiting to class suicide and the way we as academics are part of the problem who ultimately are not quite the revolutionary vanguard
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Both tradition and theory stem from the lived experience of people, tradition is just theory outside the academy.
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Indigenous is a political concept. We have a tradition, an epistemology, a cosmology, all of that is rooted in place – you have to go to place to find that depth of meaning and experience. When we are talking about BRT.
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Indigenous theoriessss has to be plural. Tradition is such a fraught word in indigenous communities, but it is harkening to historical pasts and it can be weaponized to be positioned against modern etc. so the broader thing we are thinking about is indigenous knowledge system. Our stories are theories and are therefore forms of knowledge production
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Tradition is risky. “Neo-indigenous” is a term that gets fought over, does it allow us to build something together.
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What does indigeneity look like in so-called “postcolonial nations?”and how can we think indigeneity outside of settler colonialism? Are there specific forms of indigeneity? And who can claim it in West Africa in a non-frought way?
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How can we keep solidarity between the two?Historically, there has been solidarity but how can we protect it? And how can we use theory and academia to protect it? Movements get hijacked and they get diluted.
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Given the history of human migration and how indigenous communities have migration in-built in
Use indigenous knowledge systems to think about how to care-take the land, paired with a black radical tradition in service of liberation, and think about what this liberation. Think about how to create worlds that can exist together, Parallels, not through physical boundaries and walls.
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Summary Comments from the session:
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