Being Indigenous

Indigenous peoples persist in spite of concerted efforts to exterminate them across many centuries to the present day. What does it mean to be an indigenous person in a society that is built on your erasure? This course explores this question as a conversation with indigenous voices in different settler states, beginning locally in indigenous North America and also casting our lens globally in areas as diverse as South Africa, Oceania, and the Arab World. The focus on being indigenous emphasizes that indigeneity is a living, dynamic politics, one that is shaped through historical processes, ongoing colonial practices, and indigenous lifeways of resistance. Through analysis of texts, reflective assignments, excursion to sites, films, and interaction with activists and speakers, we examine topics that are central across diverse indigenous-settler spaces, including history-making, the people-land bond, identity politics, knowledge & power, moralities, and decolonization. The course also considers why, in the settler state, everyday citizens are part and parcel of indigenous politics. We assess how colonial myths continue to shape society at large and what that means for the descendants of settler colonialism. In this way, students can begin to understand how their own lives are connected to wider processes that inform being indigenous, as well as what being a partner to indigenous struggles might involve.

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