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Hemispheric Indigeneity in the Americas

February 13, 2014 @ 3:00 pm - February 14, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

CancelledWill be rescheduled!

This interdisciplinary event will include the participation of the following speakers: Simon Ortiz an Acoma Pueblo (New Mexico) writer and poet, Irmalicia Velasquez Nimatuj, a K’iche’ Maya Guatemalan journalist, Jolene Rickard a Tuscarora Nation art historian, Mario Blaser an Argentinian geographer, Luis Carcamo-Huechante, a mapuche scholar from Chile, and Waskar Ari, an Aymara historian from Bolivia. Below are their bio blurbs and a tentative schedule of the events.


Simon J. Ortiz (born May 27, 1941) is a Native American writer of the Acoma Pueblo, and one of the key figures in the Native American literary renaissance that emerged in the 1960s. A leading figure, Simon J. Ortiz has published short fiction and non-fiction prose in addition to poetry. After attending Fort Lewis College and the University of New Mexico, Ortiz earned a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from the University of Iowa in 1969. In the early 1970s he began to write in earnest while teaching at various colleges, and in 1982 won a Pushcart Prize and a wide audience with From Sand Creek. Perhaps his most important book is 1992’s Woven Stone—a blend of the poetry and prose of three earlier volumes that is a spiritual autobiography. He is one of the most respected and widely read Native American poets.

Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj (K’iche’ Maya, Guatemala) is a journalist for the newspaper El periodico and the Executive Director of the Support Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples Oxlajuj Tz´ikin in Guatemala. She has a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the San Carlos University in Guatemala. Her research focuses on indigenous political activism, specifically related to land re-appropriation, issues of gender and agrarian economies in Guatemala.

Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora Nation) is a visual historian, artist, and curator interested in the issues of Indigeneity within a global context. She is currently a recipient of a Ford Foundation Research Grant and is conducting research in the Americas, Europe, New Zealand and Australia culminating in a new journal on Indigenous aesthetics. She served as Interim Chair for the Art Department 2009-2010 and is an affiliated faculty member in the American Indian Program at Cornell University. She is a 2010-2011 recipient of a Cornell University Society of the Humanities Fellowship on the thematic topic of “Global Aesthetics.”

Mario Blaser (Associate Professor, Dept. of Geography, Memorial University) is the author of Storytelling Globalization from the Chaco and Beyond (2010).His research examines the anthropology of ontological conflicts (different ways of conceptualizing what constitutes reality) by linking it with the challenges of articulating life projects. His research builds on a series of insights gained through research and collaboration with colleagues and Aboriginal leaders from North and South America. From this collaboration came the concept of ‘life projects’. In contrast to development, the concept of life projects refers to visions of a good life that are grounded in the particular experiences (historical, ecological and spiritual) of particular peoples in particular places, without assuming that they have universal validity.

Luis Cárcamo-Huechante is a scholar of Mapuche origin. He studied Philosophy and Social Sciences at the Universidad Austral de Chile (1980-1985), obtained his MA at the University of Oregon (1995-1997), and earned his PhD in Hispanic Studies at Cornell (1997-2001). He taught at Harvard University between 2001 and 2009. Since 2009, he teaches Latin American and indigenous literatures and cultures at The University of Texas at Austin. He has recently co-edited, in collaboration with other eight Mapuche researchers, an inter-disciplinary collection of essays entitled Ta iñ fijke xipa rakizuameluwün. Historia, colonialismo y resistencia desde el país Mapuche (Santiago: Ediciones de Historia Mapuche, 2012); a book that brings together fourteen Mapuche authors who examine many dimensions of Mapuche history, relying upon the concept of colonialism as the axis of debate and reflection on historical, political, cultural and territorial issues.

Waskar Ari (Assistant Professor of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is an Aymara historian of nineteenth- and twentieth- century Latin America. He is the author of, Earth Politics: Coloniality, Religion and Bolivia’s AMP Indigenous Intellectuals, 1921-1971 (Duke UP, 2014). His work explores the relationship between the nation-state and indigenous peoples. His work particularly emphasizes issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. He is currently working on four new projects: 1) A study of indigenous women, land tenure, and civil rights in the private and public spheres from 1825 to 1971. 2) A history of Bolivian sexualities that will address homosexuality and heterosexuality between 1930-1980 by exploring specific cases in indigenous communities during a time when Bolivian patriarchy was being restructured. 3) A study of the young Evo Morales in the period from 1953 to 1979 that emphasizes the history of post-revolutionary Bolivia, global politics, and the Cold War, and 4) a comparative study of the Indian leaders Pablo Zarate Willka (1850-1905) in the Andes and Standing Bear (1834-1908) in the Great Plains. This comparative project will explore the making of alternative public spheres, ideas about citizenship, and their appropriation by North American Indians and South American indigenous peoples.

Taking into account the speakers’ multidisciplinary perspectives, this indigeneity seminar will be framed as exploring a decolonial understanding of hemispheric indigeneity, discursive practices, indigenous knowledge production, sovereignty, and narratives of nature within a globalized framework. In addition, we will also problematize Romance Studies (Spanish in particular) and its (de)colonial relation to indigenous languages and knowledge production.

Tentative Schedule:

Hemispheric Indigeneity in the Americas. Room TBA Wednesday and Thursday morning.

Thursday, February 13
Two sessions. – 3:00pm – 4:30pm and 5:00pm – 6:30pm.
Participants present their work. 15-20min. each, followed by Q/A session.
Simon Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo)
Irmalicia Velasquez Nimatuj (K’iche’ Maya) Waskar Ari (Aymara)

–30min coffee break.
Luis Cárcamo Huechante (Mapuche)
Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora)
Mario Blaser

Simon Ortiz presentation/reading of his work. Location TBA.

Friday, February 14
3:00pm – 5:30pm
Discussion with participants based on readings of their works, or other relevant readings. A set of questions will be developed that we will use as points of departure for an informal discussion. These will include issues related, but not limited to hemispheric indigeneity, decolonization, narratives of nature, the role of romance languages/studies in these debates and discussions, etc.

Simon Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo) [?].
Irmalicia Velasquez Nimatuj (K’iche’ Maya)
Waskar Ari (Aymara)
Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora)
Luis Cárcamo Huechante (Mapuche)
Mario Blaser
Walter Mignolo

Dinner with participants. Location TBA.

Sponsored by: Romance Languages, Arturo Escobar (Anthropology), Todd Ochoa (Religious Studies), Chris Teuton (American Indian Studies), and the Institute for the Study of the Americas.

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February 13, 2014 @ 3:00 pm
February 14, 2014 @ 9:00 pm
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Romance Languages