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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/wv01-2f60


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Truth in the Form of an Image: Knowledge Making, Caring Creations, and Seeing Violence Differently in Settler Colonial Contexts





How do images as forms of truth, evidence, theory and memory inform Indigenous peoples’ and nations’ relationships to landscapes? How does (at)tending to the visual reveal or complicate power dynamics and animate Indigenous acts of refusal (Simpson 2014), reclamation, resistance or resurgence (Simpson 2017) in settler colonial contexts? This roundtable takes up Lisa Stevenson’s (2014) insight that, “We do not always want the truth in the form of facts or information; often we want it in the form of an image.” Stevenson proposes that images are able to hold uncertainty and contradictions without having to resolve them; they can sustain ambiguities of meaning that go beyond singular facts. Moreover, images and sight can nourish connections to the dead, opening up ways of caring in the aftermath of loss and violence. In this roundtable, we are interested in applying these concepts regarding image to investigations of violence and care in our respective field sites, extending them to relationships to lands, waters and airs. Drawing on Stevenson’s expansive definition of “image,” this roundtable considers works of art, photography, aerial footage, films, memories, maps, and media representations. We ask: in studying Indigenous peoples’ and settler states’ relationships to environments, how do imagistic presences inform and intervene in their praxes and imaginaries of care for waters and lands? While many ethnographic works incisively examine issues pertaining to Indigenous sovereignty and settler colonialism (Cattelino 2008, TallBear 2013, Simpson 2014, Todd 2018), this roundtable seeks to approach these themes through the lens of images. We focus on how images inform, support, or hinder processes of (re)mapping homelands and territories (Goeman 2013), reclaiming knowledge and artistic practices (Harjo, Navarro, and Robertson 2018), remembering and caring for the dead (Stevenson 2014), enunciating impossible testimonies (Agamben 2002, Song 2010), creating and world-making (Pandian 2015), interpreting landscapes (Povinelli 2016), queering capitalism through cultural storytelling, and opening up horizons of possibility (Pandian 2019). Further, we collectively ask: how do images (re)activate ways of imagining or being in relation to lands, waters, airs, ancestors, and the dead? Lastly, we explore how images inform, complicate or mobilize our ethnographic fieldwork and writing, and how we attend to the uncertainty, density and opacity of images as they appear in our field sites.


Transcript English (automatic)

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