Please join us at the upcoming stream Indigenous Possibilities in Post-Russian Spaces at the online AATSEEL Conference.

February 18, 2022

The stream is organized by the Graduate Initiative for Indigenous Studies in Russia (GIISR) (many thanks to my co-organizers: Brian Yang,Hilah Kohen, and Anna Gomboeva).

Stream description:

Indigenous Possibilities in Post-Russian Spaces

Across geopolitical contexts, critical Indigenous theory has forced a shift beyond metaphors of “decolonizing” academic work (Tuck and Yang 2012; Alekseeva 2019). Scholar-activists have instead pursued projects that act on institutional and economic reality to move toward a post-colonial-capitalist world (Dzhabbarova 2022). However, in most cases, these projects engage communities subject to Euro-US colonization separately from communities facing Russian colonization and colonial forces in Eurasia more broadly. Exceptions to this rule, such as the Arctic Council’s language revitalization initiatives and Soviet-era collaborations among Indigenous thinkers, demonstrate the potency of co-opting academic institutions to connect decolonial movements inside and outside Russian state control (Grenoble 2021, Kuznetsov 2020, Balthaser 2020). If the US-based field currently known as Russian Studies is to contribute to these connections, it must embrace the affordances of “Indigeneity” despite the complexities of translating that term in Eurasia. This stream, therefore, proposes a reframing of Russian Studies away from its imperial/colonial center and toward a focus on Indigenous realities and imaginations, particularly imaginations of post-Russian local worlds. As the Russian Federation’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine brings ideas of defederation into public discourse, how can academic and cultural workers help create worlds that outlive Russian dominance? Stream participants might actualize this question in any of its disciplinary valences, from transnational organizing strategies and language curriculum design in the present day to analyses of cultural and political history that can shape decolonial action. While some participants may offer position papers on overarching terminological questions of Indigeneity in Eurasia, others will center specific communities, texts, and practices to elucidate the implications of Indigenous Studies frameworks in territories under past and present Russian control, as well as in transcontinental networks of relation involving these territories.

This stream consists of two research panels and a roundtable on decolonial pedagogy.

1-2 Stream 2A. Panel “Community Agency in Language and Culture Planning” (9 am - 10:45 am)

Chair: Anna Gomboeva, University of Virginia

Group Panelists:
  • Hilah Kohen, University of Pennsylvania. Title: Soviet History Beyond National Republics: Centering Non-Titular Experience in the Juhuri (Mountain Jewish) Twentieth Century
  • Olga Nechaeva, University of Pennsylvania. Title: The Soviet Literatures of Dagestan and the Gorky Literary Institute

Discussant: Krista Goff, University of Miami

2-2 Stream 2B. Panel “Indigeneity in Siberia and the Written Word” (11:15 am - 1:00 pm)

Chair: Olga Nechaeva, University of Pennsylvania

Group Panelists:
  • Naomi Caffee, Reed College. Title: Black Elk Speaks with Teki Odulok: Juxtaposing Indigenous Life Stories of the 1930’s
  • Anna Gomboeva, University of Virginia. Title: The Origins of Soviet Racism: Infantilization of Indigenous Worldviews in Teki Odulok’s Snow People
  • Brian Yang, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Title: Becoming Indigenous?: Imagined Realities in Indigenous Siberian Literature

Discussant: Bruce Grant, New York University

3-2 Stream 2C. Roundtable “Indigeneity in Post-Russia-Centric Pedagogy” (2:45 pm - 4:30 pm)

Chair: Brian Yang, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign