Making Native Science: Indigenous Epistemologies and Settler Sciences in the United States Empire
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CitationNelson, Elias. 2018. Making Native Science: Indigenous Epistemologies and Settler Sciences in the United States Empire. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation traces the history of Native science in the United States empire from the mid-19th through the end of the 20th century. Native science, an episteme that I propose is not synonymous with Indigenous epistemologies, but rather includes them, is particular to a settler colonial context in which settler sciences systemically and cyclically work to appropriate and terminate Indigenous bodies, lands, and knowledges in the service of capital (intellectual and economic) production and legitimacy for the settler state. Native science emerges as the knowledge production of the cast objects and tools of settler normative sciences. It is an unsettling epistemic foil to settler science and is marked by queer failures to achieve the authority of settler sciences, a vision of epistemic sovereignty reflective of political nested sovereignty, and the inclusion of diverse Indigenous bodies of knowledge, methodologies, and histories. I explore different modes and moments of Native science and the roles it has played in Indigenous survivance on Turtle Island, while also developing the history of what I propose are settler and frontier sciences.
Native science has moved from an unsettling embedded practice within settler scientific hegemony, to an unnamed mechanism of navigating relations to colonized lands and bodies, to an actor’s category today. This dissertation is composed of two parts. Part I, “Red Progressives and Not-Quite Settler Sciences,” follows the figure of the native informant through the Red Progressive generation (1870-1932) in medicine and ethnology, focusing on Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, Dr. Carlos Montezuma, and Francis La Flesche. Part II, “Repossessing the Wilderness: New Deal and Postwar Frontier Sciences and Native Science and Technology,” looks at how Indigenous leaders, activists, and laborers have negotiated top-down settler scientific initiatives in relation to their lands and communities, focusing on frontier sciences in the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps—Indian Division in the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation and Haudenosaunee constructions of epistemic sovereignty in the postwar period. In an epilogue, I consider the futures of Native science as expressed in the history of canoes as temporal technologies that cultivate a horizon-oriented epistemology.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41129223
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