With Maile Arvin and Angie Morrill on Native feminist theories (a wordle)
With K. Wayne Yang on refusal (an excerpt)
Research is a dirty word among many Native communities (Tuhiwai Smith, 1999), and arguably, also among ghettoized (Kelley, 1997), Orientalized (Said, 1978), and other communities of overstudied Others. The ethical standards of the academic industrial complex are a recent development, and like so many post–civil rights reforms, do not always do enough to ensure that social science research is deeply ethical, meaningful, or useful for the individual or community being researched. Social science often works to collect stories of pain and humiliation in the lives of those being researched for commodification. However, these same stories of pain and humiliation are part of the collective wisdom that often informs the writings of researchers who attempt to position their intellectual work as decolonization. Indeed, to refute the crime, we may need to name it. How do we learn from and respect the wisdom and desires in the stories that we (over)hear, while refusing to portray/betray them to the spectacle of the settler colonial gaze? How do we develop an ethics for research that differentiates between power—which deserves a denuding, indeed petrifying scrutiny—and people? At the same time, as fraught as research is in its complicity with power, it is one of the last places for legitimated inquiry. It is at least still a space that proclaims to care about curiosity. In this essay, we theorize refusal not just as a “no,” but as a type of investigation into “what you need to know and what I refuse to write in” (Simpson, 2007, p. 72). Therefore, we present a refusal to do research, or a refusal within research, as a way of thinking about humanizing researchers.
We have organized this chapter into four portions. In the first three sections, we lay out three axioms of social science research. Following the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1990), we use the exposition of these axioms to articulate otherwise implicit, methodological, definitional, self-evident groundings (p. 12) of our arguments and observations of refusal. The axioms are: (I) The subaltern can speak, but is only invited to speak her/our pain; (II) there are some forms of knowledge that the academy doesn’t deserve; and (III) research may not be the intervention that is needed. We realize that these axioms may not appear self-evident to everyone, yet asserting them as apparent allows us to proceed toward the often unquestioned limits of research. Indeed, “in dealing with an open-secret structure, it’s only by being shameless about risking the obvious that we happen into the vicinity of the transformative” (Sedgwick, 1990, p. 22). In the fourth section of the chapter, we theorize refusal in earnest, exploring ideas that are still forming.
With C. Ree on haunting and settler colonialism (an excerpt)
Alphabet of terms
This is a glossary written by two women, both theorists and artists, in first person singular. A glossary ordinarily comes after a text, to define and specify terms, to ensure legibility. Glossaries can help readers to pause and make sense of something cramped and tightly worded; readers move from the main text to the back, and forth again. In this case, the glossary appears without its host—perhaps because it has gone missing, or it has been buried alive, or because it is still being written. Maybe I ate it. It has an appendix, a remnant, which is its own form of haunting, its own lingering. This glossary is about justice, but in a sense that is rarely referenced. It is about righting (and sometimes wronging) wrongs; about hauntings, mercy, monsters, generational debt, horror films, and what they might mean for understanding settler colonialism, ceremony, revenge, and decolonization. In the entries of this glossary I will tell the story of my thinking on haunting. Yet this glossary is a fractal; it includes the particular and the general, violating the terms of settler colonial knowledge which require the separation of the particular from the general, the hosted from the host, personal from the public, the foot(note) from the head(line), the place from the larger narrative of nation, the people from specific places. This glossary is a story, not an exhaustive encyclopedia (which is itself a container), and this story includes my own works of theory and art as well notations on film and fiction. It is a story that seethes in its subtlety—the mile markers flash-faded instantly from exposure. Pay close attention, and then move very far away. I am only saying this once.
Am I telling you a story?
In telling you all of this in this way, I am resigning myself and you to the idea that parts of my telling are confounding. I care about you understanding, but I care more about concealing parts of myself from you. I don’t trust you very much. You are not always aware of how you can be dangerous to me, and this makes me dangerous to you. I am using my arm to determine the length of the gaze.
At the same time that I tell, I wonder about the different endings, the unfurled characters, the lies that didn’t make it to the page, the anti-heroes who do not get the shine of my attention. Each of the entries in this glossary is a part of the telling. Together, they are the tarot—turn this one first, and one divination; turn another first, and another divination. Yes, I am telling you a story, but you may be reading another one.
With Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández on curriculum, replacement, and settler futurity (an excerpt)
This article does the simultaneously blunt and delicate work of exhuming the ways in which curriculum and its history in the United States has invested in settler colonialism, and the permanence of the settler-colonial nation state. In particular, we will describe the settler colonial curricular project of replacement, which aims to vanish Indigenous peoples and replace them with settlers, who see themselves as the rightful claimants to land, and indeed, as indigenous. To do this, we employ the story of Natty Bumppo, as an extended allegory to understand the ways in which the field of curriculum has continued to absorb, silence, and replace the non-white other, perpetuating white supremacy and settlerhood. Even as multiple responses have evolved to counter how curriculum continues to enforce colonization and racism, these responses become refracted and adjusted to be absorbed by the whitestream, like the knowledge gained by Natty Bumppo, only to turn to the source and accuse them of savagery, today through a rhetorical move against identity politics. White curriculum scholars re-occupy the “spaces” opened by responses to racism and colonization in the curriculum, such as multiculturalism and critical race theory, absorbing the knowledge, but once again displacing the bodies out to the margins. Thus, we will discuss how various interventions have tried to dislodge the aims of replacement, including multiculturalism, critical race theory, and browning, but have been sidelined and reappropriated in ways that reinscribe settler colonialism and settler futurity.