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Land, Family, Body: Measurement and the Racial Politics of US Colonialism in Haudenosaunee Country

Dr. Meredith Palmer
UCLA Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Gender Studies and American Indian Studies Program
Date and Time: 
Monday, October 26, 2020 - 15:30 to 17:00

Department of Anthropology
Via Zoom

The central question animating Land, Family, Body is: ""how can we heal from intergenerational trauma without recreating the figure of the damaged Indian?"" Measures and metrics of racial disparities in health and social inequality--despite their claims to inclusion and eventual repair--retrench and naturalize an historical figure of a damaged, deficient, or vanished ""Indian,"" a figurative product of the material and discursive production of US colonialism.
Each of three sections of this book project focuses on a particular technology and technique in its time of emergence —land survey, case files, and blood serology—and its imbrication in the geographies of occupation that shape Haudenosaunee lives in upstate New York then as today. Focusing on these technologies, I delve into the colonial politics that shape common sense scalar registers—land, family, and body—which I argue are made to work simultaneously as sites of anti-Indigenous racialization and racism. My talk will focus on an analysis of the case file as a technology of US colonial occupation, at the Thomas Indian School (1855-1957) in Gowanda, NY, which was an on-reservation and state-run Indian Boarding School.
I take the strawberry--which sits in a central position in Haudenosaunee worlds as relation and as medicine--as a guide in the school's archives and a medium through which to maintain and construct Native futures, despite the abuses of the school. Engaging practices of healing and repair in Native communities, I suggest that the ethical demands of US colonial redress--to restore and restory Indigenous relations to land and life--must reckon and refuse measures and metrics that underlie current calls for equity and inclusion. 
 Meredith Alberta Palmer (Tuscarora, Haudenosaunee) is a UC Presidential Postdoc at UCLA's Department of Gender Studies and the American Indian Studies Program, and next month will begin a position as Cornell Presidential Postdoc in the department of Science and Technology Studies and the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program.
She is a critical Indigenous geographer who researches technologies of colonial occupation and the modes by which they are refused and reckoned in lands currently territorialized as North America.
A recent graduate of UC Berkeley's Geography Department, Meredith's work is anchored in a commitment to the spatiality of human and other-than-human relations, and is grounded in Haudenosaunee homelands, upstate New York."