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Native American Studies pres.

Against Hungry Listening

Dylan Robinson, Queen’s University (Stó:lō Nation, Sqwa)

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What are the ways in which settler colonial and Indigenous ontologies structure perception, and listening in particular? This presentation provides an overview of forms of extractive or “hungry” perception, and alternatives to these that emerge from Indigenous sensory engagement. The range of such listening practices are necessarily multiple and dependent upon the specificities of Indigenous and settler epistemes at play, it is nonetheless possible to discern historical patterns of “civilizing” the attention of Indigenous people, and ongoing settler listening practices oriented toward the instrumentalization Indigenous knowledge. In contrast, forms of Indigenous listening resurgence refuse the anthropocentrism of listening, and instead proceed from intersubjective experience between listeners and song-life.

Dylan Robinson is a xwélméxw artist and writer (Stó:lō Nation, Sqwa), and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University. His current work focuses on the re-connection of Indigenous songs with communities who were prohibited by law to sing them as part of Canada’s Indian Act from 1882-1951. Robinson’s previous publications include the edited volumes Music and Modernity Among Indigenous Peoples of North America (2018); Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action in and Beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2016); and Opera Indigene (2011). His monograph, Hungry Listening, is forthcoming with Minnesota University Press in early 2020. Additionally, Robinson is curator of the Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts in Kingston, and along with Candice Hopkins, is curator of the internationally touring exhibition Soundings featuring “scores for decolonial action” by Indigenous artists.
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