Book cover for Reading Territory

Reading Territory: Indigenous and Black Freedom, Removal, and the Nineteenth-Century State

Kathryn Walkiewicz in conversation with Lisa Brooks

Thursday, April 6, 2023, at 7:00 pm ET

Approximately 60 minutes. This hybrid program will be held in person at Antiquarian Hall and livestreamed to a virtual audience on YouTube. Advance registration is required for both. Closed captioning will be available for virtual attendees. Doors open at 6:30pm.

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The formation of new states was an essential feature of US expansion throughout the long nineteenth century, and debates over statehood and states' rights were waged not only in legislative assemblies but also in newspapers, maps, land surveys, and other forms of print and visual culture. Assessing these texts and archives, Kathryn Walkiewicz theorizes the logics of federalism and states' rights in the production of US empire, revealing how they were used to imagine states into existence while clashing with relational forms of territoriality asserted by Indigenous and Black people.

Walkiewicz centers her analysis on statehood movements to create the places now called Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Cuba, and Oklahoma. In each case she shows that Indigenous dispossession and anti- Blackness scaffolded the settler-colonial project of establishing states' rights. But dissent and contestation by Indigenous and Black people imagined alternative paths, even as their exclusion and removal reshaped and renamed territory. By recovering this tension, Walkiewicz argues we more fully understand the role of state-centered discourse as an expression of settler colonialism. We also come to see the possibilities for a territorial ethic that insists on thinking beyond the boundaries of the state.

Kathryn WalkiewiczKathryn Walkiewicz (walk-uh-wits) is an enrolled citizen of Cherokee Nation. She is an assistant professor of Literature at UC San Diego and currently serves as associate director of the Indigenous Futures Institute (IFI). Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Literature, ASAP/Journal, J19, NAIS, Transmotion, Walt Whitman Quarterly, and the Rumpus. She co-edited The People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing after Removal with Geary Hobson and Janet McAdams (University of Oklahoma Press, 2010), and her current book project, Reading Territory: Indigenous and Black Freedom, Removal, and the Nineteenth-Century State, is forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press in April 2023. She held an AAS-National Endowment for the Humanities Long-Term Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society in 2021.

Lisa BrooksLisa Brooks is the Henry S. Poler ’59 Presidential Teaching Professor of English and American Studies at Amherst College. Among her many publications and accomplishments, Brooks is the author of Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War (Yale University Press, 2018), winner of the 2019 Bancroft Prize for American History and Diplomacy and five additional awards. Brooks is also the author of the award-winning The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast (University of Minnesota Press, 2008). In all her work, Brooks interweaves Indigenous methodologies, including a focus on language, place, and community engagement, with deep archival investigation. Elected to AAS membership in 2012, Brooks held a Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Fellowship in 2001 and is the 2022-23 Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence. Deeply engaged in public history and education, she also serves on the AAS Indigenous Engagement Advisory Committee.

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