Audra Simpson: Indigenous Women and Intellectual Traditions in Anthropology
Indigenous women are among the under represented voices in contemporary anthropology, and throughout its history. They were more likely to be the subjects of research into an ethnographic present, always portrayed in exotic terms and without agency. Perhaps in reaction to earlier studies Indigenous people are among the critics of the work that anthropologists produce. Despite this troubled relationship Audra Simpson has adopted a discipline that exists to explore the human condition.
The current generation of anthropologists accept that research does not occur independent of the researcher’s perspective. Thus, indigeneity will inevitably direct the course of inquiry for anthropology conducted by Indigenous people. In this conversation, Dr. Simpson will reflect upon her career as an anthropologist. She will discuss the tropes, trends and themes that inform her research and how she contributes to the discourse of modern anthropology.
Audra Simpson will be in conversation with Eldon Yellowhorn.
Audra Simpson is a Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. She is the author of Mohawk Interruptus by Duke University Press and a coeditor, with Andrea Smith, of Theorizing Native Studies.
“My primary research is energized by the problem of recognition, by its passage beyond (and below) the aegis of the state into the grounded field of political self-designation, self-description and subjectivity. This work is motivated by the struggle of Kahnawake Mohawks to find the proper way to afford political recognition to each other, their struggle to do this in different places and spaces and the challenges of formulating membership against a history of colonial impositions. As a result of this ethnographic engagement I am interested especially in those formations of citizenship and nationhood that occur in spite of state power and imposition and in particular, I am interested in declarative and practice-oriented acts of independence. In order to stay faithful to the words of my interlocutors I am interested as well in the use of narrative as data, in alternative forms of ethnographic writing and in critical forms of history. In order to stay faithful to my own wishes, I work at every turn to enter the fields of anthropology and Native American Studies into a critical and constructive dialogue with each other.
My second research project examines the borders of time, history and bodies across and within what is now understood to be the United States and Canada.”