Mar. 23: Devalued Subjectivities: Disciplines, Voices and Publics

  • 509 Knox Hall 606 West 122nd Street New York, NY, 10027 United States

WHEN: Thursday, March 23, 2017, 6 - 8 PM

WHERE: Knox Hall, 606 W. 122nd Street, Room 509

How do disciplinary politics promote the reproduction and valorization of particular voices while (implicitly) devaluing others? In the spirit of “listening for different stories” (Cruikshank 2005), I seek a conversation about whose stories come to matter within disciplines; about ways that scholars invested in projects perceived to be on the “right side of history” often unwittingly silence other narratives.

This talk follows from a collaborative project with members of a Kwakwaka’wakw ‘na’mi’ma (clan) who challenged dominant anthropological narratives reproduced through the Boasian canon and entrenched in “resistance scholarship.” Through intergenerational oral histories, archival research and engagement with scholarly literatures, members of the Kwaguł Gixsam sought a social language to portray a controversial ancestor who was critical of customary activities. Taking voice as a site of contemporary struggle within decolonizing research, this presentation explores questions about scholarly positioning alongside the projects of others and asks about consequences of disciplinary blindness. Whose publics really matter in the making of counter-narratives? 

Leslie Robertson is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Her research examines circulating forms of social knowledge (family histories, public narratives, academic theories and representations, colonial legends, medical discourses), within sensitive political and cultural contexts (reconciliation and treaty-making, medical crises, resource extraction, tourism development).

Recent research focuses on the afterlife of historical colonialism in Canada, how people from diverse cultural and social locations inhabit their histories, the imaginative resources they draw upon to speak about them, and the role of anthropology in translating and interpreting them. Collaborative ethnographic research includes oral history, archival and participatory approaches with a special interest in community - generated methodologies. 

Robertson is the co-editor of “In Plain Sight: Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver” (with Dara Culhane); author of “Imagining Difference: Legend, Curse and Spectacle in a Canadian Mining Town”; and, co-author with the Kwaguł Gixsam clan, of “Standing Up with Ga’axsta’las: Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church and Custom.”

INFORMATION: For more information, please email Amy Starecheski at aas39@columbia.edu.

THIS EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED.

NO REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED, BUT RSVPS ON THE EVENT FACEBOOK PAGE ARE APPRECIATED TO GAUGE ATTENDANCE.