PLENARY SESSION DESCRIPTIONS 

Plenary 1: INDIGENEITY AS AN INTERNATIONAL CATEGORY I November 3 

This plenary intends to open up critical discussions on Indigeneity as an international category. The discussion will highlight some of the possibilities, challenges and limitations when Indigeneity, and the bodies that claim Indigeneity, move across multiple spaces. Indigeneity and, particularly, the question of Land, bodies, and knowledges as they relate to racialization, geopolitics, identity, and spirituality, must be engaged. The dispossession of Land and displacement of bodies is not simply a historic event. It is important that we understand Land and bodies as sites of violence, dispossession, and contestation as well as spaces of knowledge production, sacredness, and spirituality. We must bring multiple readings to both the understanding and relations to Land and bodies in order to complicate ontological claims to the primacy of the Land and bodies as starting point for all decolonial and anti-colonial engagements. What does it mean for certain bodies to claim Indigeneity on colonized Land? What tensions and potentialities arise when colonized bodies move into settler colonial contexts and situate their decolonial struggles against the nation state? How do we begin to offer counter readings of the “Indigenous” speaking to New Indigenisms and Pan-Indigeneity? How do futuristic perspectives help us speak of new possibilities, new framings and new coalitions beyond conventional discourses of “solidarity”? How are communities engaging Indigeneity, and how does it inform their political practices? 



Plenary 2: ANTI-BLACKNESS IN THE ACADEMY AND IN ACTIVISM I November 4 

This panel session attends to the linkages between Blackness in the academy and Blackness in community (activism) spaces. The academy is deeply entrenched in colonialism and persistent racialized hierarchies that actively work to manage bodies. Recognizing this, this panel asks: for Black scholars/activists, how does our presence in the academy implicate us in continuing such history? How do our bodies feel and move differently through white academic spaces? Where are the Black womyn and how is their presence understood? How can we challenge and transform dominant forms of knowledge production in the places we occupy? What significance do we place on non-dominant forms of knowing and being (i.e. Indigenous African cultural knowledges, spirituality, emotionality)? In a global context, how does Blackness function within the international and national consciousness? As Blackness is increasingly commodified in our consumerist culture such as through “social justice”, how do scholars and activists respond to this commodification, domestication and co-optation of Blackness? How are academic and community spaces racially-coded with acceptable and unacceptable enactments of Blackness? There is urgency to pursue stronger linkages between academics and community activists that open up conversations about precisely how Blackness can be used as a political tool to challenge dominant ontologies, epistemologies, and ideologies. 

   
Plenary 3: REPARATIONS, RECONCILIATION AND THE ‘POLITICS OF MEMORY’ I November 5 

Reparations and Reconciliation is more than seeking accountability or acknowledging systemic complicities in multiple forms of genocide (physical, psychological, and cultural). It is a process that requires critical dialogue and political praxis for change. In Canada, a long awaited Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report on Indigenous communities that examines the impact of residential schooling in Canadian colonial history was released with calls for action on Indigenous education. The challenge the report raises explores ways for scholars, students, community activists and policy workers to come together with new cultural framings to inform social reality and political practice for racialized and Indigenous peoples. Similarly, in early 2016, a UN Working Group of Experts on Peoples of African Descent released a report recommending that the US government pay reparations to the African-American descendants of slaves. Similar discussions have occurred in many other nations (e.g., Jamaica) whose peoples were enslaved through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. These reports speak to the legacy of cultural genocide, Indigenous land dispossession, displacement, violence, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation. Together, these reports provide an opportunity to foster collective critical dialogues about the conceptions of reconciliation, reparation, refusal, and resentment. What is to be learned from such community-based grassroots-driven movements that have advocated for social justice and equity through claims of Indigenous resurgence, reparations and reconciliation? What are the possibilities and limits for social transformation and change in the current geopolitical climate of memory and remembering?