Creative Criticality in Colonial and Indigenous Archives

Through April 23, 2019
UChicago Center in Delhi

Apr. 22

As the discipline of postcolonial studies has expanded beyond nationalist frameworks of analysis, new paradigms have emerged for understanding the cultural and political agency of minority, indigenous, and otherwise subordinated people. This workshop proposes to investigate such paradigms of cultural agency in a comparatist framework, bringing together a conversation about how writers, artists, and scholars are engaging colonial and indigenous archives in the contexts of the Americas, South Asia, and Australia in bold, daring, and creatively agential ways. In this regard, the central question that this workshop proposes to ask is: how do the contents of these archives change when cast in the forms of alternative, indigenous, and minoritized knowledge systems. Over the course of two days, participants will engage this problem of the archive via reconsiderations of such topics as caste-class-race divides, translation, alternative historicities/pasts/temporalities, global indigeneity, and archival technology. These participants will represent a broad range of regional knowledge-bases, including scholars from Kolkota, Bangalore, Dhaka, Nepal, Australia, and the Americas (North America, Mexico, and Central America).                    

Over the course of this two-day workshop, there will be four panels, two applied workshops, and a poetry reading engaging the question of cultural agency in the archive. Emerging from conversations with Deb about the most urgent questions for South Asian scholars, with special attention to how these questions interrelate with critical urgency for scholars of the Americas, our four panels will feature papers that examine:

1) how divergences between caste and indigenous identity in the Indian context relate to divergences between class and race in the context of the Americas
2) how translation to and from indigenous languages is a creative activity, opening up possibility of international and inter-regional dialogue
3) how the historicity of historical events is complicated by indigenous accounts of those events, indigenous ways of recounting events, and indigenous temporalities in which events occur
4) what is needed for a comparatist approach to indigenous studies, in which dialogues can take place across continents (Americas, South Asia, and Australia), language, and cultures

In addition to these four panels, there will be two “applied practices” sessions, one in which we will ask participants to bring with them one example of an archive to be engaged critically and creatively by a scholar from beyond their regional domain; and one in which we will examine the deeply set conceptual paradigms by which we engage such “new” and “foreign” archival objects.

This event is by invitation only.