19.Black Indigeneity

Black Indigeneity: Refusing erasure, toward relationality

Convenors: Anaïs Duong-Pedica, Åbo Akademi University & Milka Njoroge, Queen's University

Contact: anais.duong-pedica (at) abo.fi, milka.njoroge9 (at) gmail.com

Seminar room: TM103 (Parallel session 2); Tellus Stage (Parallel session 3)

Format: Hybrid

In this workshop, we identify four conceptualizations of Black Indigeneity that are both inspired by Brazelton (2021) in the context of the Americas and the necessity to think with geopolitical spaces that entangle Blackness and Indigeneity as listed below:

  1. Communities that are both Black and Native, such as the Garifunas;

  2. The Black diaspora as a spread of peoples indigenous to Africa and Oceania;

  3. The possibility of ‘indigenization,’ as put forward by Sylvia Wynter;

  4. Black Indigenous peoples struggle for sovereignty, such as Kanaks in Kanaky/New Caledonia.

We invite papers that think expansively with/from Arctic ice geographies as well as other geographies as productive terrains that have capacities to undo white supremacy. Following Jen Rose Smith’s reflections on ice, we are curious about the possibilities that ice holds as elusive matter that signals “movements, shapes and conditions'' to push against “neat containers, of land, of ocean…” (The Funambulist 2022, p. 64). We are also interested in Wynter’s concept of indigenization - as a verb - (McKittrick 2016, p. 84) as the “radical practices of black humanization” (Ibid.) enacted by black diaspora “as geopolitical responses that unsettle antiblackness and objectification” to refuse placelessness. We are curious about rethinking placemaking and mobility as productive analytics that accounts for Black Indigenous and black and indigenous displacement and the absolutism of spatial claims manifested by antiblackness and settler colonialism. Indeed, while place is significant for (Black) Indigenous people’s claims to sovereignty and worldviews, the racial economy refuses black humanity through placelessness, immobility, and forced mobility. This workshop invites papers that think about the when and where of Blackness and Indigeneity in relation to gender, feminist knowledges and pratices, that interrogate the compulsion to separate Blackness and Indigeneity, and think through solidarity and interconnectedness.


Ashton Pemapanik Dunkley

Milka Njoroge

Althea-Maria Rivas

Maxine Savage

Angela Patricia Heredia

Julie Kondi

Anaïs Duong-Pedica


Ashton Pemapanik Dunkley, dunkl031@umn.edu

The Place We Stayed a Long Time”: Blackness, Indigeneity, and Afro-Indigenous Feminisms on the Ahpukwënëmink

I grew up along the muddy river banks of the Ahpukwënëmink. In our language, this space is named “the place we stayed a long time” because despite unrelenting efforts by settler-colonial powers to erase us, we Nanticoke-Lenape have remained. When I’ve spoken of my connection to this place, however, I was told by teachers, neighbors, and textbooks that the Indigenous people of this land had long disappeared. For generations, our people have built intimate relationships with the Indigenous peoples of the African diaspora who were forced to make a way out of no way on our ancestral homelands, a place people in the United States now call the “Delaware Bay.” I’ve spent much of my life countering the myth of Indigenous extinction in my homeland but within the context of this settler-state, which relies on the appropriation of stolen Native lands and expropriation of Black labor, I can’t be Indigenous and Black. I’m placeless. This paper explores how Indigenous peoples, especially Afro-Indigenous peoples, are denied their relation to place through settler racial formations. These colonial logics made law like the ‘one-drop’ rule and blood quantum policies declare that mixed ancestry, particularly Black ancestry, eradicates one’s legal claims to Indigeneity. Grounded by the theories and methodologies of Black and Indigenous Feminisms, a framework I propose as Afro-Indigenous Feminisms, this paper argues that the settler-colonial project of Nanticoke-Lenape erasure in the Delaware Bay hinges upon anti-Black constructions of Indigeneity. Afro-Indigenous Feminisms is both a field of study and a worldview that uplifts the personal and political experiences (insert footnote) of Afro-Indigenous womxn by recognizing the relationships between Blackness and Indigeneity (while also thinking beyond the ways these identities are socially constructed). This conceptual framework recognizes colonialism as a force of disconnection–yes, a force that works to disconnect Blackness from Indigeneity, but more broadly, a force that works to disconnect us from all our relations and the spaces we make home.

Milka Njoroge, milka.njoroge9@gmail.com

Towards relationality. Refusing erasure

This paper argues that black place-making in Finland occurs at the intersection of race, gender and antiblack racism. I argue that Finnish exceptionalism has transformed the cultural production of black people in Finland, allowing for an undomesticated mode of citizenship that refuses tidy conceptualizations of citizenship. The imprint of colonial denialism and denial of racial hierarchies on black people's psychic well-being in both how to spurs new ways of being in the world while also becoming an imperative to expose the assumptions that undergird Finland’s denial of racial hierarchies. This paper considers how black people make claims to space in accounts of musical and artistic productions while simultaneously thinking through the solidarities that can be enlivened with the Sámi indigenous people.

Althea-Maria Rivas, ar66@soas.ac.uk

Understanding Global Blackness Indigeneity, Reparations and the Postcolonial State

This paper focuses on unravelling the historic and contemporary connections among black indigenous communities in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, namely, the Garifuna in Belize, the Arawak in the Caribbean and the Nama people of Namibia. Drawing upon the work of Tuck and Winter the presentation explores the various claims for reparations that have arisen among these peoples. It goes on to draw linkages between their calls for justice, methods of resistance, the engagements with the post-colonial state and relationships with other black populations. Ultimately the paper aims to provide a more complex conceptualisation of the intersections of slavery, blackness and settler-colonialism and a more nuanced understanding of the weight of erasure for black indigenous populations.

Maxine Savage, savay@uw.edu

North Adjacent: Black Indigenous Encounter in the Colonial Exhibition

Part of a larger project exploring Black autobiographies set in the Nordic North, this paper reads Victor Cornelins’ 1977 autobiographical account of the 1905 Danish Colonial Exhibition [Dansk Koloniudstilling] for moments of Black Indigenous relationality. Cornelins was forcibly migrated from St. Croix to Denmark at the age of 7 along with 4-year-old Alberta Viola Roberts. These children were taken for the explicit purpose of being put on display at the 1905 exhibition at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. The Danish colonial imaginary presented at Tivoli – in which the Caribbean, far North Atlantic, and continental metropole can be traversed via a suite of rooms – proves both a rich and violent site for Cornelins. I consider the colonial exhibitions’ spatial logics of imperial conquest as well as the relations and embodiments that these spatial re-orderings might unknowingly and/or unintentionally accommodate. I argue that Cornelins’ experience and (forced) inhabitation of the 1905 exhibition, particularly his time spent in “the Greenlandic section” [“den grønlandske afdeling”], demonstrates and visibilizes a Black Indigenous relationality. This relationality, made explicit by the exhibit’s physical arrangement, challenges the colonial geographies and taxonomies that undergird the very exhibit itself. What other connections and relations might be emphasized or rendered visible in these spaces that otherwise go unnoticed? And what might these realignments and reorderings contribute to contemporary discussions of the Nordic North and its hegemonic whiteness?

Angela Patricia Heredia, Heredia_Angela@phd.ceu.edu

Coloniality, conquest, and extraction: A framework to rethink the genealogy of the hu(Man)

The long genealogies of critical perspectives of coloniality (Césaire [1950] 2001; Fanon [1952] 2008; [1963] 2004; Wynter 1994; Trask 2004; Spillers 1987; Rivera Cusicanqui 2018) challenge an understanding of dehumanization as mere categorical exclusion and focus on the importance of the materiality of violence in the production of the “hu(Man)”(King 2016). As Wynter (2003) suggested, in the colonial/modern order dehumanization is tied to the violent emergence of a new genre of the human that will come to overrepresent one particular mode of existence (that of Man) as if it were that of the human itself. This paper is an attempt to develop a genealogical and theoretical reflection on how the dehumanization and conquest of the enslaved and the native and the production of their bodies, temporalities, and spaces as being in proximity and intimacy with the inhuman has been crucial to sustaining the extractive affective economies (Ahmed 2004) that undergird such overrepresentation. Taking as a point of departure the theoretical contributions of black and native feminisms (Hartman 1997; Spillers 1987; Trask 2004; Byrd 2011; Wynter 1980; Smith 2020; King 2019) and through an analysis of sixteenth-century visual production portraying the inhumanity of colonial conquest in the Americas, I explore the relationship between conquest, extraction, and the hu(Man). Such intertwinement, I argue, sheds light on how the humanization and dehumanization of the colonized involve forms of violence, exploitation, and domination that are geared and go beyond conceptual and even legal inclusion, exclusion, and hierarchization.

Julie Kondi, juliekondi4@gmail.com

The Ancient Art Of Maemae -Sexual Skits And Political Rhetorics of the Kaulong Feminists Theatre, in Papua New Guinea

The Bebeli language is one of the endangered languages in the country where over eight hundred ethnic groups have their own language. In recent years impacts of globalization has threatened it's existence where English and local creole language of Tok Pisin have become formal languages of communication in the country. This continued loss of Bebeli language use also threatens many of the ancient knowledge systems and heritage materials entrenched and embedded within. One such example of these endangered local traditional knowledge systems this social erasure has had and continues to affect is with regard to the practice of the art of " Maemae " in Procreation myths that more often are misunderstood as form of traditional eroticism  because it uses phallus motifs and symbolism acts and practices in its performances. How does this ancient art form  an integral aspect of feminism in the Kaulong Society? The indigenous identity and role and status of black women in their oral history? taking into account that the study on Maemae as a traditional form of Melanesian theatre in Papua New Guinea has never been done before nor has it been discussed publicly because it has always been performed on engendered spaces as a sacred conversation. In recent years despite being performed in public areas of viewing it has been misinterpreted, misconceived and misunderstood.Moreover, being taken out of context, it's sociocultural values are being erased consequently loosing it's place in the construction of Social dynamics involving stature and belonging within the local Society.

I will be using the Papua New Guinean writer Regis Tove Stella dissertation on Reimagining the Other in the study of Papua New Guinean subjectivity as a theoretical model in decolonising myths about gender and status of women in "traditional" Melanesian society. This is to demystify Gender arguments reinforced by generalized literature of and by dominant the culture that ignores indigenous voices such as of the Kaulong people in representing their experiences in the debate by main stream media. It is where I will further contend that within the construction of national identity image there are three layers of Papua New Guinean subjectivity lens; the modern diaspora citizens, the modern Papua New Guinean living in between two cultural heritage of modern diaspora and Social conciousness of her Melanesian identity and then there are those those who embrace traditional Melanesian cultural beliefs and values. All of which the current identity of black indigeneity is identified in the country. It is an interesting identity affirmation debate that has been continuing since Bernard Narokobi presented the Melanesian Way and others such as Lipuma, (1995) Jolly, (1992) Kelly, (1995) Sahlin, (1999) and Sillitoe, (2000) so forth began to add their arguments to the discussion.  My contention is to expand that scope of discussion into the Pacific conciousness in international discourse where feminism and indigeneity is concerned. Indoing so go on further to agree with Brazelton(2021) about geopolitical spaces that entangle blackness and indigeneity.

Anaïs Duong-Pedica, anais.duong-pedica@abo.fi

Thinking from Kanaky with Suzanne Ouneï

This presentation aims to think through a conceptualization of Black that engages Black Indigenous peoples struggle for sovereignty, specifically Kanak people. It departs from the observation that the political work of Kanak women has been overlooked in feminist scholarship and scholarship about Oceania. Beginning with reflection on the presenters encounter with Kanak feminist activist Susanne Ouneï (1945-2016), one of the co-founders of the 1980s Group of Exploited Kanak Women in Struggle in Kanaky/New Caledonia, the presentation aims to address the ways in which Kanak women’s resistance has been silenced. Then trough a close reading of Ouneï’s essays, speeches and interviews, it explores her legacy and the revolutionary character of her praxis. Specifically, the paper looks at Ouneï's contribution to making Kanak women into political subjects, her critique of antiblackness in Oceania and settlers of colour in Kanaky/New Caledonia and her exploration of Kanak feminist resistance against French bourgeois feminism. The article suggests that Ouneï's work should be received as a gift that nourishes our political thinking and doing and attests to the impossibility of separating Blackness from Indigeneity in the Black Pacific.