Hidden Violence: Indigenous Resistance in Quotidian Settler Structures

Authors: Deondre Smiles*, The Ohio State University
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Political Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: indigeneity, settler colonialism, autopsy, resistance, quotidian, counter-conduct
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Grand Couteau, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As Patrick Wolfe (2006) asserted, settler colonialism is a structure, not an event. Nevertheless, much work in settler colonial studies has done just that---focused on ‘spectacular’ events, rather than quotidian, banal structures. To date, this focus on the spectacular has arguably obscured attention from the banal, everyday moments where the settler colonial state makes its presence violently felt on indigenous bodies, such as through law enforcement, coding of spaces, and acts of Western scientific discourse, like autopsy. By focusing on the ‘spectacular’ we rob ourselves of insights into the ways that through indigenous people living their everyday lives according to their indigenous identities, they present an effective and potent resistance to settler colonial violence. I expand upon Audra Simpson (2014), where indigeneity ‘interrupts’ the different apparatuses of settler structures that manifest themselves on multiple scales. Through their quotidian acts, indigenous people, to quote Wolfe again, “get in the way” of settler colonial structures and disrupt their eliminatory discourses. It is here, I argue that it is here that we will find the true nature of contestation between indigeneity and settler structures. In particular, I will focus on Northern Minnesota, where actions such as the construction of the Line 3 pipeline, the attempted autopsies of indigenous bodies, and uneven criminal and civil jurisdictions have visited grimly quotidian violence to Anishinaabe/Ojibwe bodies, yet have sparked adept and resourceful responses from Anishinaabe people.

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