2016 Symposium Schedule

10:00 AM: Opening Remarks by Johnella LaRose with light refreshments

10:30 AM: Comparative Racializations

Stevie Ruiz, “Empire Under the Sun: Japanese Internment at the Colorado River Indian Reservation”
Under Executive Order 9066, citizens of Japanese descent were forcibly removed from their homes, property, and schools. In 1943, the Poston War Relocation Center was built on the Colorado River Indian Reservation where 17,000 internees were put in concentration camps. In the context of World War II, I argue that the Poston Relocation Center created the means for Japanese-Americans and Native-Americans to identify their complex historical relationship to the U.S. nation-state as an imperial power. Matt Briones and John Howard, for example, analyze the impact internment had upon race relations between African-Americans and Japanese-Americans that resulted in complicating the color line under Jim Crow during World War II. I examine the impact internment had upon race consciousness when juxtaposing the experiences of Japanese-Americans with those of Native-Americans. When drawing upon the racialization from each demographic from a comparative ethnic studies approach in one geographical location such as the Poston Relocation Center, it demonstrates the contingent nature that rested upon stripping civil rights and undermining American Indian land sovereignty.

Bedour Alagraa, “Unsilencing the Geographic Script in The Souls of Black Folk: DuBois’ Sociohistorical (auto)Poeticist Exploration of Black ‘Space’ and ‘Place'”
In this paper I will read DuBois’ central concepts in Souls through the disciplinary lens of critical geography. I plan to unsilence DuBois’ contributions to critical geography in Souls by reconsidering his controlling metaphors of ‘the Veil’ as well as ‘the colour line’ as critical geographic expressions in addition to useful metaphors about the affective dimensions of anti-Blackness in America. I will conduct an interrogation of DuBois’ sociohistoric poetic methodology, and argue that his sociohistoric poetics is committed equally to languaging the experience of racism as it is to identifying how the human and physical geography of the United States structures experiences of racism, particularly in the ‘Black Belt’ of the rural South. Furthermore, I will argue that in his metaphors of ‘the veil’, ‘the color line,’ his account of the traumas of Reconstruction-era South, and his use of particular locations in the south as articulating nodes for his categories, DuBois Souls contains a hidden, critical geographic transcript that attempts to deal with Reconstruction-era ruptures in in Black spaces while attempting to find a ‘place’ for the Negro in post-Emancipation American society. The argument forwarded in this paper is not limited to illustrating the impact of DuBois sociohistorial poetics on the field of critical geography. The meta-argument in this paper takes DuBois’ categorical discernments of space and place, and the creative potential for the rise of critical geographies that followed, as evidence of the role of Africana thought and Africana studies as a site for interdisciplinary activity as well as a site for the production of new disciplinary imaginaries.

Johanna Breiding and Shoghig Halajian, Night Again Again (film screening)
Night Again Again is a short film exploring the history of Fresno, California as a home to Armenian immigrants. It brings together texts by renowned Armenian-American poet William Saroyan (1908-1981), who lived and wrote about Fresno, with the filmmaker’s own relationship to and memory of the town. The experimental narrative explores the temporality of place, and its shifting implications. Wandering through Fresno’s contemporary blighted landscape, the protagonist-a son-weaves two distinct biographies and moments in time together, recalling Fresno as a space that was integral for Armenians’ assimilation into American life throughout the 20th century. Today, the town has lost its place as the largest diaspora. As the solitary figure passes through the abandoned city, site/ sight conflate to underscore the role of images in one’s understanding of, and belonging to, culture. Touching on pre-genocide Armenian communities in California to the current Syrian-Armenian experience of the civil war in Syria, the project explores how place holds and reflects history.

11:30 AM: BREAK

11:40 AM: Bodies, Proximity, Sovereignty

Dan Bustillo, “New Intimacies”
In this artist talk, I will share some of the research that went into my work, ‘new intimacies,’ an investigation of our shifting relationship to distance. I will focus on a monster finger signing party in which a batch of postcards, written to correct a public analogy made by retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden that likened airstrikes to casual sex, was shipped to the White House. Departing from the former general’s comment, my practice-based inquiry will look at remote weaponization technologies and remote sexual technologies with a particular interest in how certain forms of mediation are designed to enhance empathy, while others contribute to a mechanism for disavowal.

Michelle Potts, “Resisting Incapacitation: Force-Feeding and Corporeal Sovereignty at Guantánamo Bay”
This paper examines the practice of hunger striking at Guantánamo Bay detention camp and the force-feeding of detainees. I argue that force-feeding is a biopolitical tactic used by the state to manage and regulate political transgression and, indeed, life itself. Moreover, I question what kind of space the hunger striker now inhabits. Is it a necropolitical space, as Achille Mbembe argues, whereby death’s grasp over life becomes totalized? If so, what does it mean to continue conceptualizing the body as an agent of resistance in such a space? Through an analysis of state reports, detainee’s testimonials, and visual culture I highlight the paradox inherent to modern liberalism’s dedication to the elimination of pain and suffering through war, torture, and confinement. As such, hunger striking in sites of captivity signify a radical gesture that works with, against, and through state sovereignty.

12:20 PM: BREAK

12:25 PM: Carceral Geographies of Extraction

Neil Nunn, “Toxic Dispossession: Sovereignty, Mine Waste, and the Future of a Continent”
Mine waste events and the legacies that follow them offer the opportunity to consider colonial dispossession in ways that exceed normative temporal and spatial scales. They are long lasting, imperceptible to our everyday sensory ken, and difficult to confirm, even for those most impacted by the spills. Against this backdrop of an understanding of mine waste beyond normative humanist scales, I reflect on two recent mine waste events in British Columbia (BC) to make two intertwined arguments. First, I argue the assault brought on by mine waste events, paradoxically, presents an opportunity for the maintenance of colonial sovereignty by reinstilling common sense myths about inherent paternalism and jurisdiction held by the crown. Second, coinciding with recent landmark supreme courts decisions in BC that speak cogently about Indigenous land rights, I argue that at a moment when images and discussions of the impacts of mine waste have reached a pinnacle in the public imaginary, analyzing the injustices surrounding mine waste events offers a unique opportunity to challenge the state’s legitimacy and expose the limits of the fraught logic that sustains the political order that grants the colonial state’s superintendent control over “the nation.”

Claire Urbanski, “Ancestral Detention: Settler Desire and the Carceral Logics of Grave Theft and Museum Containment”
In this paper I use the concept of ‘indefinite detention’ to intentionally expose the carceral logics and settler colonial containment strategies at work in the excavation and massive hoarding of Native bodies detained in institutional collections across the country. ‘Indefinite detention’ as a settler colonial containment strategy seeks to capture racialized Native bodies within settler fantasies and seeks to ‘naturalize’ these bodies as objects of settler research and desire. How is the extraction of Native ancestral bodies from dispossessed Native homelands necessary to sustain cohesion and reproduction of a settler nation and settler identity? How can we understand the excavation and detainment of Native corpses as foundational to settler technologies of surveillance, policing and mass incarceration? How does museum detention enforce colonial meanings of life and death onto racialized bodies in the United States, as well as allowing for ongoing processes of dispossession? How does museum detention seek to discipline relationships with land and place? This paper interrogates how settler colonial projects of grave theft and the attendant exhibition of exhumed bodies in museum sites facilitate contemporary forms of racialized social death and extend settler nationalist reproductivity into land, death, and spirit.

1:05 PM: LUNCH

2:00 PM: Keynote delivered by Gelare Khoshgozaran

3:00 PM: BREAK

3:10 PM: Relationalities

Heike Schotten, “Queering Sovereignty, Decolonizing Desire”
Lee Edelman’s much-discussed, oft-reviled 2004 polemic No Future is commonly received as a clever if ultimately uncritical anatomy of white, bourgeois heteronormativity. This paper suggests instead that No Future be read as a biopolitics that unwittingly articulates the ideology of survivalunderpinning settler colonial civilizationalism and its expansionist security logics currently unfolding in the Global War on Terror. Reading No Future in conjunction with Thomas Hobbes’s account of sovereignty in Leviathan demonstrates that this survivalist ideology is premised on the futurist temporalization of desire that is inaugurated with settlement, which constitutes life as life by constituting settler lives as worthy and valuable whilst relegating “savages” to the space of death. Sovereign biopolitics is thus always already a necropolitics, and operates primarily through the vehicle of civilizationalism. This argument challenges prevailing wisdom that sovereign biopolitics is fundamentally a theorization of racism and imperial racialization rather than (settler) colonialism. It is also a re-reading of Edelman’s queer theory that recognizes that inhabiting the space of death—which Edelman recommends in the form he calls “queerness”—is a decolonizing move and entails a turn toward indigenous refusals of the colonial imperative of native disappearance and the insistence, instead, on remaining.

Nuttaphol Ma, “Mapping The China Outpost: Temporal Settlements within a Cobweb of Contentious Spaces”
The China Outpost is a nomadic self-imposed sweatshop created by Nuttaphol Ma. The source of this undertaking is a cross section of Ma’s experiences at his retail day job and the research of his ancestral house in Southern China. Since the project’s inception in Jul 2010, Ma stages these temporal settlements throughout Los Angeles. They function as makeshift forums to perform mundane tasks of transforming discarded plastic bags into plastic threads, a material he will use as the core building material for the eventual reconstruction of his ancestral house. These sociocultural interventions invite curious passerby to open ended conversations about migration and the labor of adapting to a new home. As part of the Spatializing Sovereignty symposium, Ma will present the context surrounding the formation of The China Outpost, to highlight significant events that shape its current form and to share future direction of the project.

3:40 PM: BREAK

3:45 PM: Futurities

Khadeejah Avvirin Gray, “Ruptured Skin, Radical Geographies: The Politics of Skin in Artworks by Nadia Myre and Marianne Nicolson”
In “Ruptured Skin, Radical Geographies: The Politics of Skin in Art by Nadia Myre and Marianne Nicolson” I view the aforementioned artists’ works “Indian Act,” “Landscape of Sorrow,” “Inkanatation,” “Everything I know About Love” and “House of Ghosts” from the perpetual present occasioned by their usage of scars to collapse the moments between settler event(s) and the wounds themselves. I argue that Myre (Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg) renders skin as place in recognition of Native nations as lived, dynamic, and in constant renewal. I propose that Myre’s usage of skin articulates the unevenness of liberal logics of love as they play out in the lives of First Nations women. In so doing, her work challenges the Indian Act of Canada’s centuries-long regulation of aboriginal women’s purportedly free choice in romantic couplings. My project indexes First Nations’ activism concerning the Indian Act and its various amendments. I briefly review First Nations women’s organizations decades-long efforts to appeal to as well as to alter tribal councils as forms of government, to forge a futurity for their children and assert their inherent Indigenous right to live on land bases.

Billy-Ray Belcourt, “Reserve Futures”
This paper argues that the reserve bears a very particular and winnowed affective atmosphere (Stewart 2011), one in which toxic sensations and viruses proliferate, attacking the Indigenous bodies therein and, in this, altering their chemistries and consigning them to a kind of cellular fragility. It takes up the so-called epidemics that incubate inside the reserve – epidemics of HIV, diabetes, and rheumatic fever – to offer ‘frail life’ as an analytic: the ways in which settler states biopolitically produce Indigenous bodies that slowly destroy themselves from the inside, speeding up their decomposition and magnetizing them to pathogens, fluids, and habits that wrench them into a state of chronic illness and coterminously away from sovereignties that take a corporeal form. In a word: settler states don’t always have to kill; our bodies can do that work for them (Simpson 2014). I use the colloquialism ‘Indian time’ to capture this latent or slowed kind of pain, when Indigenous peoples are forced to make do in bodies that don’t always feel like bodies but like wounds. In short, I think about how to think about the rupturing of the normative view that properly citizened subjects “have” or can “be” in a body as constitutive of Indigenous life in settler states.


5:00 PM: Keynote Delivered by Mishuana Goeman, “Electric Lights, Tourist Sights: Gendering Dispossession and Settler Colonial Infrastructure at the Niagara Falls”