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Indigenous Memory: Philosophies for the End of the World

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Organizer: Ethan Madarieta

Co-Organizer: Carolina Diaz

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“For indigenous peoples, place, land, sovereignty, and memory matter.” Jodi Byrd (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma)

This panel explores Indigenous philosophies of memory and their ontological, ecological, political, and spiritual affects and effects. It asks how these philosophies have long understood and imagined the many ends and beginnings of the world and what, in particular, Indigenous philosophies of memory, and thus of time and presence, teach us about our planetary present. For example, Indigenous memory puts ontological pressure on Western categories that organize memory and remembrance which assume and assert the primacy of the Human and the permanence of the Nation-State. For many Indigenous peoples, not only do the land, rocks, rivers, and the earth itself remember, but they are memory and the intimacy of one’s relationship with these suggests how long and how well one remembers. As Ojibwe writer Drew Hayden Taylor reminds us in the novel Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, “the land does not forget; it is in fact the memory of all who live on it. In today’s world, raccoons live closer to the earth than most people, so their memory too is longer” (343). Taking into consideration what Chadwick Allen has described as the “trans-Indigenous methodologies” and “multiperspectivist strategies” of comparative global Indigenous studies, this panel focuses on the processes and multiple roles of memory for Indigenous peoples and their intersection with other core concerns such as territory, kinship, social and ecological well-being, temporality, and the continuation and sustainment of Indigenous knowledges.

Of the many potential avenues of thought for exploring global Indigenous Memory Studies, panelists might pursue, but are not limited to, the following:

-What are the processes of Indigenous memory? What categories of thought and practices does it propose?
-What kind of social, territorial, and spiritual relations might be considered within Indigenous Memory studies, and to what effect?
- What imaginations of the future do Indigenous philosophies of time bolster during our current ecological catastrophe? And what role does art and literature play in such imaginations?
-How does Indigenous memory defy spaciotemporal structures that uphold Western ontological and ecological categories?
- Considering differential ontologies, blackness and global anti-blackness, the eco-social effects of slow violence, Settler colonial logics of elimination, and ongoing and overlapping histories of forced transit and migration, how might these manifold structures of racism affect the processes and shift scholarly approaches to Indigenous memory?
-How might consideration of Indigenous sexualities, genders, and feminisms complicate understandings of Indigenous embodied, historical, social, and cultural memory?

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