“Why We Eat Our Rel­a­tives: The Pre­da­tion Para­dox of Other-Than-Human Kinship”

Daniel Heath Jus­tice (Chair of the First Nations Stud­ies Pro­gram at Uni­ver­sity of British Colum­bia)

  • Pub­lic lec­ture, Thurs­day Novem­ber 13, 2014 (4:00–6:00pm, Thom­son 101)
  • Lunch work­shop, Fri­day Novem­ber 14, 2014 (11:30–1:30, Sav­ery 408)

Among the many roman­ti­cized stereo­types about Indige­nous peo­ples, the noble sav­age in har­mo­nious bliss with with the nat­ural world is one of the most pop­u­lar and prob­lem­atic. In these Eurow­est­ern fan­tasies, Edenic Indige­nous peo­ples live in peace­ful, uncom­pli­cated rela­tion­ship with the plants, ani­mals, and ele­ments, and all are in sim­plis­tic bal­ance in the cir­cle of life. When exer­cis­ing cul­tural sov­er­eignty through rit­ual and sub­sis­tence hunt­ing, how­ever, Indige­nous peo­ples chal­lenge these impos­si­ble colo­nial­ist ideals and are too often demo­nized by both left and right as brute sav­ages, col­o­nized sell-outs, or ene­mies of nature. Such dis­missals inher­ently mis­rep­re­sent Indige­nous peo­ples’ rela­tions to the other-than-human, ignore the his­tory of colo­nial­ism and its impacts on Indige­nous peo­ples’ abil­ity to uphold their wide-ranging famil­ial respon­si­bil­i­ties, and erase the var­ied and com­pli­cated rela­tions between Indige­nous peo­ples and the diverse beings with whom they abide in kin­ship, oblig­a­tion, and even con­flict. This pre­sen­ta­tion will con­sider sub­sis­tence and cer­e­mo­nial hunting–what we might call the “pre­da­tion para­dox” of killing and eat­ing one’s other-than-human relatives–in Indige­nous kin­ship prac­tices and in con­tem­po­rary envi­ron­men­tal and polit­i­cal dis­course, argu­ing that far from being a chal­lenge to these com­plex rela­tion­ships, kin­ship pre­da­tion is nec­es­sary to their long-term health and to Indige­nous eco­cul­tural resurgence.

Daniel Heath Jus­tice (Chero­kee Nation) is Canada Research Chair in Indige­nous Lit­er­a­ture and Expres­sive Cul­ture and Chair of the First Nations Stud­ies Pro­gram at the Uni­ver­sity of British Colum­bia. He is most recently the author of Bad­ger, part of the Ani­mal Series from Reak­tion Books (UK), and co-editor of the Oxford Hand­book of Indige­nous Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture (2014). His cur­rent works include the lit­er­ary man­i­festo, Why Indige­nous Lit­er­a­ture Mat­ters (forth­com­ing from Wil­frid Lau­rier Uni­ver­sity Press) and a study of other-than-human kin­ship in Indige­nous lit­er­ary expression.


Other Events for 2014/2015

Simp­son Cen­ter Research Clus­ter — The Post­colo­nial Ani­mal: Nature/Culture/Empire

Ani­mal Stud­ies has gained great vis­i­bil­ity thanks in part to the con­tri­bu­tions of such lead­ing schol­arly fig­ures as Jacques Der­rida (2008), Donna Har­away (2008), and Martha Nuss­baum (2007). As the Chron­i­cle for Higher Edu­ca­tion put it, “ani­mal stud­ies has become a force to be reck­oned with in phi­los­o­phy, lit­er­ary and cul­tural stud­ies, his­tory, and other fields with a tra­di­tion­ally human­is­tic bent” (Howard 2009). A sign of the impor­tance of the “ani­mal turn” is the emer­gence of new fields it has made pos­si­ble, the most notable of which we argue is the study of what we call “the post­colo­nial ani­mal,” short­hand for the urgency, util­ity, and even the neces­sity of plac­ing race, sex, and species within the same ana­lytic frame.

Fol­low­ing schol­ar­ship on inter­sec­tion­al­ity, a par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful ana­lytic tool for under­stand­ing iden­tity for­ma­tion and expe­ri­ence, we argue that species can be added to—and can inter­sect with—gender, race, class, eth­nic­ity, and sex­u­al­ity, to bet­ter under­stand how vec­tors of power and priv­i­lege are formed and how we might start to shift them in the direc­tion of greater social justice.

The Crit­i­cal Ani­mal Stud­ies Work­ing Group is grate­ful to the Wal­ter Chapin Simp­son Cen­ter for the Human­i­ties at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton for fund­ing a research clus­ter - The Post­colo­nial Ani­mal: Nature/Culture/Empire - orga­nized by Pro­fes­sors Maria Elena Gar­cia (CHID/JSIS), Michael Brown (Geog­ra­phy), and Louisa Macken­zie (French/Italian). Full sched­ule here.


Seat­tle Arts & Lec­ture U Series - Think­ing Ani­mals: Species, Power and the Pol­i­tics of Care in the World

7PM– Jan­u­ary 9, 2015, Jan­u­ary 30, 2015, Feb­ru­ary 13, 2015, Feb­ru­ary 27, 2015 and March 6, 2015 — Henry Art Gallery Audi­to­rium at the Uni­ver­sity of Washington

Pre­sented in part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­sity of Washington’s Crit­i­cal Ani­mal Stud­ies work­ing group.

Ani­mals occupy a para­dox­i­cal place in the world: they are every­where, yet hid­den. This course explores the his­to­ries, pol­i­tics, and cul­tural dynam­ics of how humans see and do not see ani­mals in the world. Bring­ing exper­tise from wildlife sci­ences, ani­mal wel­fare, geog­ra­phy, anthro­pol­ogy, lit­er­a­ture and polit­i­cal sci­ence, a dis­tin­guished set of speak­ers will explore human-animal con­nec­tions in a range of global and his­tor­i­cal con­texts, includ­ing Renais­sance France, con­tem­po­rary Peru, and urban and rural spaces in the United States.

This series of lec­tures will be held at the Henry Art Gallery in con­junc­tion with their upcom­ing exhi­bi­tion by Ann Hamil­ton which will touch on themes of human and non-human ani­mals. For more on Ann Hamil­ton and this exhi­bi­tion click here.


Past Events 

For a list of past Crit­i­cal Ani­mal Stud­ies Work­ing Group events, visit our ‘Past Events’ page.


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