A profound conference of generosity, insight, and leadership through practice and scholarship, the interdisciplinary (Re)Thinking Landscapes: Ways of Knowing / Ways of Being conference at Yale University brought together scholars, artists, and activists from around the globe. Panel presenters, workshop leaders, and keynote speakers shared unique insights in how their work embodies a convergence of landscape, representation, and politics of the land.
Prompted by questions about how “land and landscape are a point of entry to reckon with how colonial, nationalist, heteronormative, and white supremacist systems and structures impose themselves on land, waters, and communities,” conference participants elevated knowledge about the complexities of environmentalism and the human experience. Through the support of 10 sponsors at Yale, guest artists and scholars infused urgency and meditation across a multiplicity of fields, revealing threads of influence and support for environmentalism and the responsibilities we have to be cognizant of our scholarship and artistic actions and how they impact representations and agency.
Keynote speaker Nick Estes
(Kul Wicasa/Lower Brule Sioux, University of Minnesota), honored the movement for awareness and action for Indigenous boarding school survivors in his presentation on place, meaning, and the intricate connections between the ongoing fight of land and water protectors and the historical and contemporary landscape of colonial capitalism and extraction through the exploitation of Indigenous bodies and land. (September 30th-National Day of Remembrance for Native American and First Nation boarding/residential School survivors). In conversation with Royce K. Young Wolf (Eastern Shoshone and Mandan-Hidatsa, Yale University), Estes shared his perspective on cross-cultural allyship and reinforcement of Indigenous values and knowledge in ongoing efforts to (re)make our relationships with the land and each other.
Keynote speaker Tiffany Lethobo King (University of Virginia), in conversation with Morgan E. Freeman (Hassanamisco Nipmuc, Yale University), shared an intimate perspective on land and memory represented in institutional memorial sites and Black Indigenous movements. King’s experiences and shared initiatives with the community-based collaborative endeavors by the Black and Indigenous Feminist Futures Institute (BIFFI) were inspiring. King articulated methods to elevate actions which prioritize cross-cultural interdisciplinary research, scholarship, and cultural production within context-based approaches to wellness and activism.
Panel presentations, a film screening, and artistic workshops were scheduled alongside tours of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the Yale University Art Gallery. Artistic maker sessions and digital storytelling workshops brought participants into embodied education sessions, tactile and trace theory memory, and personal connections to the land.
Warren Cariou (Métis, University of Manitoba) co-led a creative workshop on land-based photography and cyanotypes with Young Wolf. Cariou’s bitumen petrography documentation of Canada’s Tar Sands intersected with Young Wolf’s collaboration with Paige Baker Photography to document ancestral Indigenous sites and an increasing impact by environmental shifts caused by fracking in the Bakken shale of North Dakota. Such efforts to expand the horizon on academic representations of community-based work rooted in relationships with the land and community was at the forefront of scholarship shared by over 40 presenters.
Conference Committee (Pictured in Top Photo Above): Siobhan Angus (History of Art), Lisa Beyeler-Yvarra (Religious Studies, School of Architecture), Abigail Fields (French), Vu Horwitz (History of Art), Elizabeth Keto (History of Art), and Lydia Tuan (Italian, Film and Media Studies)
Co-sponsors: The Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, The Yale Environmental Humanities Program, The Whitney Center for Humanities at Yale, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, The Yale University Art Gallery, The Yale Group for the Study of Native America, The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, The Yale Department of the History of Art, The Yale Department of Italian Studies, and The Yale Film and Media Studies Program