Laying GROUNDWORK: relationality, land, and ways of knowing

Following a keynote lecture by social anthropologist Timothy Ingold, the first session of this spring’s Preston Thomas Memorial Symposium, titled “GROUNDWORK,” will include lectures by Dr. Amber Meadow Adams, Dr. Sébastien Marot, and Dr. Meredith Alberta Palmer about relationality, land, and ways of knowing. Lectures will be followed by a discussion moderated by Cornell AAP faculty Jolene Rickard and Sean Anderson, asking: How can we bring radically divergent histories of land and place into conversation?

Opening with Sachem Sam George putting through Words That Come Before All Else, each speaker will introduce new perspectives on conventional histories surrounding the Upstate New York region / Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ (the Cayuga Nation) and Cornell University. Adams’ talk will focus on relation and responsibility as practiced in Haudenosaunee Creation philosophy. Adams is Lower Mohawk of the Six Nations at Grand River; she holds a Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies from the University at Buffalo and a B.A. in Literature and Writing from Columbia University. Her work forges creative writing and scholarship to illuminate the ethics of reciprocal relation across Haudenosaunee horticultural, familial, and intellectual practices. In reflecting on the interdependencies among these practices, Adams writes, “In Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ and the other Haudenosaunee languages, each name for a familial relationship is a verb phrase describing a specific act: to parent is to hold, to be someone’s father is to be lent by another Clan family. Since reciprocity is a core piece of onkwehonwenéha, our way of doing things, each descriptive (and prescriptive) verb phrase carries the response action that will sustain the relationship. So, for human beings, the terms that describe this matrix present us with a set of instructions for maintaining our lives on Earth by maintaining our relationships with all other lives on Earth.”

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