Distinguished Arts Speaker series presents Kim TallBear March 24

Talk to examine the definitions of indigeneity

MRU's 2017 Distinguished Arts Speaker is University of Alberta professor, author and prolific media contributor, Kim TallBear, PhD.

Recognizing one person annually who is considered an advocate for advancing the importance of the arts and/or social sciences, the Distinguished Arts Speaker series is a MRU initiative helping to influence societal culture, says Jeff Keshen, PhD and dean of the Faculty of Arts.

"The outstanding careers of these speakers underline the breadth of where arts and the social sciences lead in knowledge mobilization, dissemination and impact," he says.

TallBear is a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota and is also descended from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. After spending much of her life in the U.S., she moved to Edmonton and says via Twitter that it was the, "best move I've made."

Focusing on the radical politics of "gene talk" in science and popular culture, Tallbear describes herself as a former environmental planner who has become interested in the similarities between western constructions of "nature" and "sexuality" as they are defined and sanctioned historically by those in power.

Curious about how sex and nature can be understood differently using Indigenous worldviews, Tallbear draws on Indigenous, feminist and queer theory in her teaching and research, which works to undermine the nature/culture split in western society and its role in colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia and environmental degradation.

TallBear has spent the past number of years presenting throughout Canada, the U.S., Japan and Europe. Her lectures have taken place at universities, colleges, and tribal colleges; at research institutes; at professional meetings in Native American and Indigenous studies, anthropology, and science and technology studies; in museums of culture and science; for federal agencies and tribal organizations; and at the United Nations.

She has also authored a book titled Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science, which discusses how identifying indigenous individuals is far more complicated than matching DNA.

"Kim TallBear is an outstanding academic whose work demonstrates the scope and importance of arts," says Keshen.

"Her books, articles, public presentations, teaching and community activities educate on topics that include colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental degradation and Indigenous ways of knowing."

TallBear's visit to the University captures the spirt of MRU's Indigenous Strategic Plan, which is the framework for how the University will integrate Indigenous teachings and practices into curricula, and honour Indigenous experiences and identities on campus.

"Her selection speaks to our commitment as a faculty and University to indigenization," says Keshen. "The series is designed to highlight one person selected annually by faculty who demonstrates excellence in teaching, scholarship and/or community engagement.

"We are honoured host Kim Tallbear as the 2017 Arts Distinguished Speaker." Kimberly TallBear will be speaking at MRU on Fri. March 24 from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Lincoln Park Room. The title of her presentation is Molecular Death, Desire, and Redface Reincarnations: Indigenous Appropriations in the U.S. and Canada. No RSVP required to attend. All are welcome.

March 13, 2017 — Rob Petrollini