Events and Conferences

Molecular Death, Desire, and Redface Reincarnations: Indigenous Appropriations in the US and Canada

This talk traces simultaneous and related discourses of indigenous life and death or our ever-predicted vanishing as these discourses and practices unfold in genome science and other cultural fields in which indigeneity is consumed for the visions and benefit of settler-colonial society.

Definitions of indigeneity and who therefore is able to claim such status are co-constituted with diverse claims to biological and cultural patrimony. For half a millennia colonial states have claimed ownership and control of land and “natural resources.” Academic disciplines developed in ways that support such claims. Similarly, U.S. social actors extend colonial claims of ownership to include indigenous peoples’ DNA, symbols, and representations.

This talk pays special attention to how dominant definitions and representations of indigeneity privilege individual human ancestry, history and agency over that of the collective and of nonhumans. Thus a core tenet of indigenous peoples’ own definitions of their peoplehood is undone: that indigenous individuals emerge not only in relation to the bodies of other humans but indigenous peoples as collectives emerged from and continue to evolve as peoples in relation to nonhuman bodies—to place.

The individualizing and new genomic constitution of indigeneity undercut its salience as a category for mobilizing peoples who resist the assimilative state. Instead, such moves assist the settler state in appropriating indigeneity within the national body, a final ultimate claim of ownership.

Event Details
March 24, 2017
10:30 a.m. to noon

This event is free. All are welcome!

Lincoln Park Room (J 301)
Mount Royal University
4825 Mount Royal Gate SW


Kimberly TallBearKim TallBear, author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science, is Associate Professor, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience, and Environment. She is a founding advisory board member of the Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics (SING), based at the University of Illinois Institute for Genomic Biology, and a decolonial bioethics faculty member in the program. Dr. TallBear is a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota. She blogs at on Indigenous Peoples and Technoscience, and tweets @KimTallBear.