Beyond Settler Colonial and Racialized Ecologies

The 2022 Harvard University Mahindra Humanities Center Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference | March 25-26

Co-sponsored by Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Brown University
Via Zoom from the traditional territory of the Massachusett people

Developing a sense of ourselves that would properly balance history and nature and space and time is a more difficult task than we would suspect and involves a radical reevaluation of the way we look at the world around us. Whether we are prepared to embark on the painful intellectual journey to discover the parameters of reconciling history and nature is the question of this generation.

Vine Deloria, Jr.

The existential questions Vine Deloria, Jr. articulated nearly fifty years ago in his monumental book God Is Red: A Native View of Religion, as he pored over the tumultuous American landscape of the early 1970s, have surged with force into the twenty-first century. Indeed, the crises which fueled the activist movements that loomed large in Deloria’s field of vision have shifted into new registers no less acute or insistent: compounding climate disasters fueled by unchecked capitalist expropriation and consumption, the global expansion of a U.S. military and carceral empire, the terrorizing of intimacies through the erection of heteronormative interpersonal and international borders, the continued assault on the lives of Black and Indigenous peoples and peoples of color, and sustained threats to Indigenous sovereignties and lands.    

Within this context, settler colonialism and racial capitalism have emerged as powerful analytic tools for historicizing and theorizing transcontinental intimacies, imperial imaginaries, economic networks, and bureaucratic infrastructures. Yet, as forceful as these critiques are, it is also necessary to place them in conversation and tension with practices of anti-colonial inquiry, world-making, knowledge production, intimacy formation, and imagination that already surge within, against, and beyond settler and racialized ecologies. Urged by Deloria’s insistence that a radical re-evaluation of the way we look at the world is not only important but vital, this conference seeks to take up the rigorous and generative intellectual work he and many before and since have undertaken:

  • Reconceiving the relationships between history, nature, space, time, story and place;
  • Reconfiguring academic inquiry so that it is informed by and accountable to Indigenous homelands and ecologies of kinship and care-taking;
  • Reimagining the interrelationships between communities brought together under the pressures of colonization, capitalism, heteropatriarchy, and racism but refusing the cartographic power of any of these to determine the landscape of relationality or the horizons of political possibility.

We invite you to join the Seeding Relations conference to engage this urgent and monumental work and connect with others who are likewise reconceiving, reconfiguring, and reimagining our collective lives beyond settler-colonial and racialized regimes.