Biopolitics – Geopolitics – Sovereignty – Life: Settler Colonialisms and Indigenous Presences in North America

Biopolitics – Geopolitics – Sovereignty – Life: Settler Colonialisms and Indigenous Presences in North America

Dr. René Dietrich, Mainz; Prof. Dr. Kerstin Knopf, Bremen
Johannes Gutenberg-Universtität Mainz, Transnational American Studies Institute
From - Until
25.06.2015 - 27.06.2015
René Dietrich

Theories of biopolitics and geopolitics have developed into an integral instrument to interrogate settler colonialisms and Indigenous presences in North America. This symposium therefore takes issue with biopolitics and geopolitics in the settler nation-states of the U.S. and Canada, executed through continuing techniques of dispossession and surveillance of Indigenous peoples, as well as with corresponding forms of sovereignty, agency, and life exercised in the matrix of biopower. Putting forth that life is situated at a crucial junction between bio- and geopolitics, the symposium wants to advance recent work by exploring and theorizing the different epistemologies and politics of life in settler and Indigenous contexts in relation to bio- and geopolitical practices past and present. We thus invite scholars of various disciplines engaged in these issues to discuss ‘life’ as a category for political analysis and critique in settler-Indigenous relations, in evolving formations of sovereignty and agency, and in the struggle for decolonization.

Confirmed speakers: Mishuana Goeman (U of California), Mark Rifkin (U of North Carolina), Andrea Smith (U of California), Michael R. Griffiths (Wollongong), Robert Nichols (U of Minnesota), Audra Simpson (Columbia) Kathy-Ann Tan (Tübingen), Brian Hudson (U of Oklahoma), Gesa Mackenthun (Rostock), Sandy Grande (Connecticut College), Norbert Finzsch (Cologne), Jaqueline Fear-Segal (East Anglia), Ursula Lehmkuhl (Trier), Sabine N. Meyer (Osnabrück), René Dietrich (Mainz)

The symposium features a reading by Deborah A. Miranda (Raised by Humans. Poems, 2015; Bad Indians. A Tribal Memoir, 2013)

Registration is possible until May 31st.

The symposium is sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Transnational American Studies Institute at JGU Mainz.


Thursday, 25 June, Senatssaal der Naturwissenschaftlichen Fakultät

5.00pm Introduction and Welcome

5.30pm Keynote Address

Mishuana Goeman (University of California, Los Angeles):
“Electric Lights, Tourist Sights: Gendering Dispossession and Colonial Infrastructure at the Niagara Falls Border”

7pm Opening Reception
Local Wine, Pretzels, and Cream Cheeses

Friday, 26 June, Senatssaal

9.00-10.30am Lands and Lives in the Geo-and Biopolitical Logics of Settler Colonialism

Mark Rifkin (University of North Carolina, Greensboro):
“Fictions of Land and Flesh: Indigeneity, Blackness, Speculation”

Andrea Smith (University of California, Riverside):
“Without the Right to Exist: the Settler Colonial Logics of National Security Law”

10.30-11.00am Coffee Break

11.00am-12.30pm Theorizing Settler Colonial Geo- and Biopolitics
Michael R. Griffiths (University of Wollongong):

“’While We’re on Twins’: Global Settlement and the Transit of Deconstruction”

Robert Nichols (University of Minnesota):
“The Violence of Dispossession”

12.30-2.00pm Catered Lunch

2.00-3.30pm Settler Colonialism, Indigeneity, and Gender

Audra Simpson (Columbia University, New York City):
“The State is a Man: Theresa Spence, Loretta Saunders and the Gendered Cost of Settler Sovereignty in Canada”

Kathy-Ann Tan (University of Tuebingen):
“Decolonial Aesthetics, Indigeneity and Queer(ing) Settler Colonialism”

3.30-4.00pm Coffee Break

4.00-5.30pm Forms of Life in Biopolitics, Animal Studies, Ecocriticism

Brian Hudson (University of Oklahoma, Norman):
“Nonhuman Sovereignty and Cherokee Politics”

Gesa Mackenthun (University of Rostock):
“The Myth of the Unecologial Indian. Bisoncide and Neo-Savagism”

8pm Reading by Deborah A. Miranda
Raised by Humans. Poems (2015), Bad Indians. A Tribal Memoir (2013)

Saturday, 27 June, Senatssaal

9.00-10.30am Temporality and Spatiality of Settler Geo- and Biopolitics

Sandy Grande (Connecticut College):
“Indigeneity and the Biopolitics of Aging”

Norbert Finzsch (University of Cologne):
“The Smooth Space of Nomads: Indigenous People and their Spatial Outopia”

10.30-11.00am Coffee Break

11.00am-12.30pm Dispossession and Violence vs. Agency and Sovereignty in Settler-Indigenous Relations

Jaqueline Fear-Segal (University of East Anglia, Norwich):
“Owning the Image: Native Students Claim Visual Sovereignty far from Home”

Ursula Lehmkuhl (University of Trier):
“Resilient to Regulation: Métis Self-assertiveness and Adaptability to the Early System of Settler Colonialism in the Red River Area”

12.30-1.30pm Light Lunch

1.30-3.00pm Geo- and Biopolitics in North American Indigenous Literatures

Sabine N. Meyer (Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Recht als Kultur”/”Culture as Law,” Bonnn):
“’I was nothing but a bare skeleton walking the path’: Biopolitics and Life in Diane Glancy’s Pushing the Bear (1996)”

René Dietrich (University of Mainz):
“Radical Relationality, Settler Knowledge, and Indigenous Lifeworlds in Recent Native Memoirs”

3.20-5.00pm Film Screening, introduced by Kerstin Knopf (Bremen)
Alanis Obomsawin, dir. Is the Crown at War With Us? NFB, Canada, 2002, 97 min.

5.00-6.00pm Final Discussion (Chair: René Dietrich, Kerstin Knopf)

Contact (announcement)

René Dietrich

Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Transnational American Studies Institute
Jakob Welder Weg 18, 55128 Mainz
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