The Politics of Indigenous Knowledge Production

In this class, we will consider the legacy of “scientific” appropriation of Indigenous knowledge and the ways that Indigenous scholars (and scholars who are in relation with Indigenous communities) are reckoning with this history. As such, this course offers students a venue to investigate both the ways that settler-colonialism operates in this realm of “intangible” resources and the ways that theorists are creatively resisting this appropriation. Bringing together a wide range of primary sources, we will think about what knowledge, property, and Indigeneity are, and the ways in which they are related and contested.

Over the course of several thematic units we will read work by Indigenous theorists paired with canonical anthropological texts or theories. This will allow us to consider critically the legacy of research in Indigenous communities with a view to asking about the possibilities and pitfalls of future work. What role have institutions of knowledge production – universities, museums, research organizations  –  played in appropriation? What could the future of such institutions be?

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