The Land of Michfest: Settler Rural Imaginaries and Womyn’s Separatism in the Settler State

Authors: Jacklyn Weier*, Pennsylvania State University
Topics: Rural Geography, Women, Political Geography
Keywords: settler colonialism, rural imaginaries, wilderness, womyn’s separatism, Michfest
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Cleveland 2, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper combines literature about separatism, rural imaginaries, and settler colonialism to critically evaluate the role of the settler state in the production of rural imaginaries by lesbian and womyn’s separatists. I find that attendees to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (Michfest) use settler concepts of empty rural land, and in particular wilderness, in their perception of safety at the festival. By first focusing on the land, this paper details how the settler state is involved with the production of rural landscapes through histories of forced displacement and the formation of national parks. Made empty materially by dispossession and discursively with national parks, the land of Michfest is embedded in settler state processes. Using Browne’s (2011) work with Michfest as utopia, I demonstrate that women’s perception of safe rural space is derived from the formation of an empty land settler rural imaginary that is the direct result of aforementioned settler state processes. Notions of feminized safety in rural space are ultimately entangled in the exclusion of safety for Native Americans who cannot return to their land.

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