The (Native) American University (9/30/15)

full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA 2016

The colonial appropriation of indigenous place names has been an abiding concern of postcolonial studies. The severing of names from their semantic, grammatical, and linguistic ties within the native language and their re-contextualization within the language of the settler creates, in a variety of ways for both colonizer and colonized, a gap between the experience and meaning of a place and the name used to describe it, complicating the colonial boundary. Although the American university is a primary site for postcolonial study, it rarely if ever studies itself as a site of colonial appropriation, despite its widespread use of Native American place names for both large institutions (e.g., University of Connecticut) and small local schools (e.g., Housatonic Community College). How might the university reflexively interrogate its own appropriation of place? Might this investigation retrieve indigenous cosmologies that could revise and redefine the mission of the university? Or is such an investigation, carried out within academic discourse, always already an expansion of the colonial boundary? Is such an investigation inescapably ironic and thereby self-defeating? Or might the process of uncovering new layers of irony signify a postcolonial mode of inquiry? This panel welcomes a diversity of conventional and innovative approaches to this neglected area of postcolonial studies.

To propose a paper for this panel, please submit a 300-word abstract to the conference website:

Deadline for submissions: September 30, 2015.