Native American and Indigenous Studies Association

The premiere international & interdisciplinary professional organization for scholars, graduate students, independent researchers, and community members interested in all aspects of Indigenous Studies.

How are Indigenous definitions of sovereignty ‘written’ differently across Indigenous song, dance, oratory, pictographs and other expressive and material culture? How are these senses of sovereignty shared and experienced differently through their specific performative, linguistic, and material forms? While scholars have engaged the various activisms, affirmations and assertions of visual sovereignty (Rickard 1995, Raheja 2010), this seminar seeks to extend Indigenous theorizations of sovereignty in relation to other art form and other sensory domains. Participants are invited to compare the written, visual and aural political-aesthetic impacts of Indigenous law and protocol, and examine how different forms of Indigenous expression act not simply as the modes by which political messages are conveyed, but as forms of politics in and of themselves. Further questions participants might address include the following: How do written, sung, beaded or spoken ‘documents’ represent Indigenous law, or enact models of treaty and land title? How do protocols across Indigenous Nations and peoples affirm sovereignty and/or challenge Western conceptions of law? In what ways might we consider Indigenous aesthetic ‘acts’ similar or different to performative speech acts? In both contemporary and traditional forms, how do these various “song acts”, “dance acts” and even “beading acts” balance political efficacy with aesthetic engagement? How do such acts speak to Indigenous peoples, other-than-human relations, and settler publics? Interested participants across disciplines are encouraged to submit abstracts that pertain to written, visual, aural, and kinetic forms of Indigenous sovereignty, in addition to other affective and sensory registers (olfactory, gustatory).

To submit a proposal for this seminar please do so on the ACLA webpage:

For questions, please contact Dylan Robinson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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