Indigenous Public Intellectualism, Academic Entrepreneurship, and Turning it back into Knowledge-making
As the child of a tribal planner, and a second-career academic also formerly trained as a planner, I have always understood “research” as a vehicle for social change. I was born amidst 1960s activism, including the American Indian Movement. I saw my mother pull all-nighters in the 1970s and 80s. She wrote proposal after proposal to fund reservation-based and urban Native educational, housing, medical, and cultural protection programs. A product of that era, I did a Ph.D. not to be a professor, but to make a needed intervention in a burgeoning global conversation around mapping the human genome and the implications for Indigenous peoples. Twenty years later, I am a professor with a prestigious research chair, but doing little traditional research. In the last ten years, I’ve been active in global conversations about decolonizing science, technology, and sexualities; cultural appropriation; and Indigenous “identity” fraud. My days are filled with media interviews and podcasts; producing a sexy storytelling show; grant-writing; organizing decolonial Indigenous genomics training; and policy and program talks to government, community organizations, clinicians and therapists, and to academic audiences too. In a pandemic time that coincides with vicious provincial budget cuts to higher ed, my Faculty of Native Studies is seizing opportunities in crisis. We are developing online and micro-credentialed curricula geared toward learners locally and globally. In this talk, I’ll discuss how more diverse academic approaches can result in new forms of knowledge production in a quickly changing academy wherein Indigenous people and programs may or may not continue to be as marginal as we have been.
Kim TallBear (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) (she/her) is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience, and Society, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta. She is the author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science. In addition to studying genome science disruptions to Indigenous self-definitions, Dr. TallBear studies colonial disruptions to Indigenous sexual relations. She is a regular panelist on the weekly podcast, Media Indigena. You can follow her research group at https://indigenoussts.com/. She tweets @KimTallBear. You can also follow her monthly posts on her Substack newsletter, Unsettle: Indigenous affairs, cultural politics & (de)colonization.