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Indigenous Materialities and Temporal Divergences in the Americas

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Organizer: Martín Vega

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The reinvigoration of Marxist analysis in the field of colonial Latin American Studies has brought new attention to topics such as commodities, infrastructure, and forms of exchange between the Americas and the wider Iberian imperial realm. This materialist turn has done much to nuance the material effects of Spanish and Portuguese colonization on subjugated populations and territories in the context of a formative capitalist world system. Yet, indigenous epistemes and materialities too often fall out of the purview of such analysis, particularly when the objects in question do not possess the monumentality characteristic of imperial societies such as the Mexica, Maya, and Inca. The focus on imperial, urban, and state-based social structures is part and parcel of colonial situations whose effects cut across material, ontological, and epistemological axes.

 

Participants in this panel will work through the concepts of indigeneity and materiality by way of objects, processes, and relationships that decenter the privileged status of monumental structures, urban settlements, and large-scale sedentary agriculture in the valuation of ‘culture’. The panel places emphasis on material practices and on forms of creativity and knowledge-making that resist the tendency within modern nation state, often aided by academic institutions, to exploit a few noteworthy elements of indigenous culture while relegating the rest of indigenous existence to prehistoric time, denying indigenous communities their own history. At the same time, we follow the lead of recent critiques in the field of Native American and Indigenous Studies that call into question the normative developmentalism within the Marxist tradition (Coulthard 2014, 9) and the insistence, however well-intentioned, on coevalness between Western modernity and indigenous societies (Rifkin 2017, 18). In postulating the idea of indigenous materiality, then, panelists will consider the temporal and ontological frameworks that shape knowledge production around both materiality and indigeneity. Ultimately, the material urgency for this project responds to the existential threats posed by an extractivist capitalism whose most immediate impact is felt by indigenous communities. 

 

Topics to consider include but are not limited to:

 

Alternative territorialities and relationships to land and environment

Migrations and communal mobility 

Museums as material containment

Non-state settlements

Contemporary indigeneity

Ancestral materials, memory, and knowledge

Decolonial art

Repatriation of human remains

Bodies and corporality

Codices, khipu, and alternative literacies

Multiple temporalities

The ‘time’ of the settler state or the modern nation state

Early agriculturalists

Small scale agriculture

The materials of quotidian life

Pedagogic practices, institutions, and projects

Reservations and concentration camps 

Resource exploitation

Border zones 

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