Powwow Power

Powwow Power: Unsettling 'Colonial realism' in a Canadian City
Speaker: Joe White # University of Edinburgh
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Date and Time
26th Mar 2014 17:00 - 26th Mar 2014 17:00
Seminar Room 3, Chrystal Macmillan Building

This seminar examines constructions and contestations of the urban powwow, a gathering for Indigenous peoples in the city. It is based on fieldwork with First Nations DJ trio A Tribe Called Red and the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival, both based in Ottawa, Canada (unceded Algonquin territory).  It builds the concept of ‘Colonial Realism’ to describe the pervasive logic of ‘incontestability’ underpinning colonial encroachments in the region, arguing that the urban powwow dramatically ‘unsettles’ these forces. Forms of ‘colonial realist’ assimilation and extermination, which propagate and rely upon a reciprocal expansion of capitalism and colonialism, are ‘unsettled’ here through the construction of three distinct ‘ethnographic theories’: ‘Nation’, ‘Humour’ and ‘Indigenization’. These theories illuminate the way ideas of identity, time, space, music and dance are all deployed through the urban powwow in a creative expression of Indigenous community.  Centred on the rhythm of the drum, the diverse forms that Indigeneity and the powwow take show the widening ‘cracks’ in a logic that assumes there is no alternative to the eventual determinacy of colonialism.