Nuna pigitjangittavut, nunattinut pigijauvugut / La terre ne nous appartient pas. Nous appartenons à la terre. / The land does not belong to us. We belong to the land.

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Indigenous Literary Studies Association
contact email: 

A Virtual Gathering of the Indigenous Literary Studies Association

Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

June 1-3, 2021 

Hosted online at the University of Alberta, Treaty 6/Métis Nation Region 4

In a time when the majority of our interactions are happening in virtual spaces, ILSA seeks via its 2021 gathering to remember, affirm, and critically consider our embeddedness in particular landscapes, in diverse Indigenous territories, on land that--as Taqralik Partridge reminds us--“does not belong to us.” Instead, she asserts, “nunattinut pigijauvugut”:“We belong to the land.”

While the conditions and extent of ‘our’ belonging to the land vary greatly across ILSA’s membership, we attend to this phrase for its centering of the land as well as its curbing of colonial entitlements--particularly in a year that has been shaped by the struggles of Wet’sewet’en land defenders, by the defence of Mi’kmaq treaty rights, by #BlackLivesMatter, and by other inequalities sharpened by a global pandemic. At our 2021 virtual gathering, we aim to create opportunities to connect and collaborate virtually while also remembering where we are and to whom we are accountable. As such, we invite those who produce, publish, read, study, and teach Indigenous literatures (whether writers, scholars, publishers, and/or community members) to join us in considering the linkages between our work in Indigenous literary studies and the material realities of the lands that we inhabit and that continue to give us life.

As we plan this unprecedented online gathering, we likewise have in mind our founding commitment to “foster the healthy and well-rounded lives of [our] members and others” (“Governing Code”), as well as the priorities from our 2020 planned gathering on Manitoulin Island: to seek to engender together a scholarly practice of balance, as guided by the late Basil Johnston’s Walking in Balance: Meeyau-ossaewin. As before, we wish to consider how our gathering can inspire new possibilities for collaboration, mentorship, creation, and critical problem-solving that exceed the standard modalities of scholarly research and dissemination—and that think more broadly about how, why, and because of whom we do what we do.

The ILSA Council seeks to honour our virtual host location in Treaty 6 territory/Métis Nation Region 4, Congress’s “Northern Relations” theme, and the unique needs of our members during this time. These will all guide our planning, as will the specifics of the proposals that we receive. We will also endeavour to provide to our members multiple options for participation (e.g., pre-recorded; live presentation, recorded; live presentation, unrecorded), depending on individual needs. 

In the absence of the kind of community-building and mentorship activities that we would have a chance to hold in-person, ILSA is offering to curate a series of optional writing communities for members attending Congress. If you elect to join a writing community, you would be grouped with other members working on related issues or with similar methods, and in the months leading up to the gathering, ILSA will organize informal meetings where ideas can be workshopped, feedback can be sought--or even just where writing and discussion can happen. If you are interested in participating in an ILSA writing community, please tell us this in your application.

ILSA invites the submission of Proposals for Participation and Biographical Statements to be sent to by Friday, Jan 15, 2021. Note: the ILSA Council is currently equipped to read proposals in French and English; we also welcome proposals for presentations either partially or fully in Indigenous languages--and will work with presenters directly to discuss logistics.

  • Proposals for Participation: These 200-300 word proposals should animate ideas that you are currently working on or are eager to grapple with. It is not expected at this stage that arguments be fully realized; rather, we invite well thought-out works-in-progress, particularly ones that are relevant to the themes outlined above. What are the central questions that prompt your research or creative intervention? Which texts, concepts, and/or practices do you turn to in thinking this through? While some proposals may be aiming toward the production of individual academic essays, others may be more collaborative or formally innovative, encompassing creative work or embodied, experiential activities. The purpose of the proposal is to allow us to understand the questions that you are working with and the methods that you are considering so that we might find possible supportive groupings amongst members, whether in the form of writing communities or conference panels. 

ILSA will also consider proposals for panel presentations, roundtables, and/or workshops. However, we may be in touch to ask about possibly coordinating with other members whose work may be closely aligned.

  • Biographical Statements: With your proposal, please submit a brief statement of relationship. Rather than a conventional biography that simply outlines your professional qualifications, please introduce yourself in terms of who you are in relation to Indigenous literary arts and scholarship. Why do you want to be a part of the 2021 gathering? What do you hope you will take away to integrate into your ongoing creative/scholarly/community engagements? This bio need not be longer than 200 words.

Again, please indicate in your application whether you would consider being grouped into a writing community (a series of informal meetings, in the months leading up to Congress, amongst members working on related topics)--or whether this is not your preference at this time.

1 Partridge, Taqralik. curved against the hull of a peterhead. PS Guelph, 2020.2 Johnston, Basil. Walking in Balance = Meeyau-ossaewin. Kegedonce Press, 2013.