Indigenous Mobilities: Travelers through the Heart(s) of Empire

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of Kent/East Anglia



Travelers through the Heart(s) of Empire



Wednesday 17th –

Friday 19th June


Reid Hall, Paris



-     David A. Chang (University of Minnesota)

-     Nika Collison (Haida Gwaii Museum)

-     Michael H. Crowe (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians)




In 2006, Anishinaabe artist Robert Houle (Sandy Bay First Nation) conceived Paris/Ojibwa during his residency at La Cité des Arts in Paris. Partly a commemoration of the 1845 visit of Maungwudaus and his troupe of performers, and partly a “reply” to the contemporary responses of French writers and artists the work reflects on the history and politics of encounter, and on disappearance. The piece recalls Indigenous ties to the land, while also alluding to the untimely deaths of members of Maungwudaus’s troupe and family while on tour. The resulting installation invited renewed encounter between Parisian publics and that Anishinaabe history, through a contemporary Anishinaabe presence in the city.

This conference, drawing on the work of the “Beyond the Spectacle: Native North American Presence in Britain” project, seeks to build on the growing body of work examining Indigenous travel across the Atlantic, broadening the scope of our present project from Britain to Europe more broadly, and from North American/transatlantic to global concerns. If Houle’s project is one example of the ways travel both creates and illuminates historical memory, while also offering the opportunity to examine and enliven ongoing connections between Indigenous and European spaces and communities, how else do these legacies of colonialism manifest on European soil? How do they critique and commemorate that past?

How do/can they transcend the colonial context? And what do they mean to contemporary communities, whether Indigenous or European? Maungwudaus and others left accounts of their experiences in Europe; what do those accounts, and contemporary reverberations such as Houle’s artwork, do to their public audiences’ understanding of the spaces they travelled through, as well as the places they came from? How do they inflect an Indigenous-centred understanding of the transnational turn; deflect or otherwise destroy the binary of Indigenous (local/static) and modern (global/mobile); or contribute to the exigencies of post-Imperial history and its implications in other fields? And finally, what practical, material change can the examination of these moments and modes of encounter, in spaces that invite collaboration between Indigenous and European participants, bring about for current practice in academia, museum studies, and the culture industry more broadly, particularly in regard to the relationships between institutional practitioners and communities?

We welcome the full range of traditional approaches—20 minute papers, panels, roundtables—and are very open to more innovative responses to subject matter—poster presentations, video presentations, performances, collaborative/interactive sessions, as well as to non-academic proposers.

Topics that may be covered include, but are not limited to:

-       Historic and contemporary journeys by both individuals and groups—their root causes and impacts, e.g.: Sport, military (esp. the First and Second World Wars), activism, commerce, diplomacy, captivity, and performance

-       Commemorations /reverberations of historical journeys

-       The legacies of travel to home communities (incl. artistic and literary responses)

-       The ‘residues’ of travel in destination communities (incl. artistic and literary responses)

-       ‘encounter’ between different groups of non-European travellers

-       How to make European archives more accessible to Indigenous scholars and communities

-       Decolonizing European archives and institutions

-       Fostering Indigenous-centred Indigenous Studies in Europe

-       What it means to be gathering in Paris (or any other major city of a colonising power)

-       Fostering mutual, ethical relations between IS practitioners in Europe and Indigenous communities

-       Reframing Centre and Periphery

-       Confronting/transcending the spectacle

Papers: please send 250 word abstracts and a short bio.

Panels: panel proposals of no more than 3 speakers should include a 100 word summary of the overall theme, plus 250 word abstracts per speaker. Please include short bios for all contributors, including chairs/respondents.

Roundtables: please outline the proposed discussion in roughly 250-300 words and include bios of all intended participants that make clear how they will contribute to the discussion.

All Other Formats: please describe the intended contribution in 250 words or so, include a brief bio, and a full list of any facilities (space dimensions, audio-visual, etc.) that would be required so that we can understand feasibility.

Please send all proposals to: by 31 December 2019.