A. Simpson – Nov. 7

Sovereignty, Sympathy and Indigeneity

A public lecture by Dr. Audra Simpson (Columbia)
Time: November 7, 2011 at Noon
Location: Student Activity Center 5.118
co-sponsored by Native American & Indigenous Studies

This research project is concerned with the problem of commensurating (Indigenous) sovereignty with (liberal) sympathy. How are Indigenous claims for rights and redress made understandable and/or commensurated to the understandings and claims of those who would have the power to hear them?

Audra Simpson - Nov.7

These questions find their impetus in the fulcrum of Indigenous-state politics in Canada in the 1990s. The period that this paper investigates begins in 1990 with a 78-day armed stand-off at Kanehsatake between Mohawk nationals, the Surete du Quebec and then the Canadian Armed Forces. Barely containing itself as a tidy decade of foment, this period of unrest, litigation, outright militarized resistance, commerce and trade rendered itself as claims upon the moral and fiduciary conscience of the state, a conscience that then forced these claims into a market of sympathy in order to be legible to the public: as objects worth of sympathy. This market of sympathy, theorized much earlier on by Adam Smith as a baseline for the politics of recognition, rendered legible only that which was conveyed through idiom of harm. In this project, comprised of case studies the politics and suffering of that period are analyzed in tandem with the contractual disbursements of capital that aimed to assuage and diminish the colonial legacy and techniques of rule that structure Indigenous and settler politics today.

Recent work

2011 “Settlement’s Secret.” Cultural Anthropology 26 (2): 205-217. [download:Cultural Anthropology Simpson 2011.pdf]

2010 “Under the Sign of Sovereignty: Certainty, Ambivalence and Law in Native North America and Indigenous Australia.”  Wicazo Sa Review 25 (2): 107-124.

2007 “On Ethnographic Refusal: Indigeneity, ‘Voice’ and Colonial Citizenship.”  Junctures: The Journal for Thematic Dialogue 9:  67-80. [download: Simpson – VOICE.pdf]