Fall 2017

image for Genocide, Resistance, and Resurgance course

Genocide, Resistance, and Resurgence: Native Peoples of the Americas

In this course, we will traverse the Americas to ask a series of big questions that resonate across national boundaries: What does it mean to be Indigenous? What is genocide, and can Native American communities recover from such trauma and loss? What role might tradition, literature, and art play in healing? Can Indigenous and settler-colonial societies ever reconcile? What does it mean to be an “American,” and how have Native people, past and present, shaped that identity? To answer these questions, we will move from the ancient past to present-day political struggles. We will draw upon a variety of tools, ranging from archaeology to literature and law. Throughout the course, we will analyze persistent myths, reframe colonialism as a set of ongoing processes, account for differing outcomes, and reflect upon our interrelationships with the forces that have shaped nations and communities throughout North and South America, including here at Northwestern. Finally, our work will extend beyond the classroom, including field trips to the Art Institute of Chicago, the Newberry Library, and the American Indian Center of Chicago.


Doug Kiel (History and Humanities) is a citizen of the Oneida Nation and studies and teaches Native American history, with particular interests in the Great Lakes region and twentieth century Indigenous nation rebuilding. His current book project, Unsettling Territory: Oneida Indian Resurgence and Anti-Sovereignty Backlash, examines how the Oneida Nation’s leaders strengthened the community’s capacity to shape their own future by envisioning, deliberating, and enacting a dramatic reversal of fortune during the twentieth century. Doug is a co-editor (with James F. Brooks) of “Indigenous Midwests,” a special issue of Middle West Review.

Laura León Llerena (Spanish & Portuguese) specializes in colonial Latin American studies. She teaches courses on the discursive articulation of indigenous identities; native Andean Empire narratives; myths and cautionary tales about the unknown in Spanish and Portuguese colonial America; and contemporary representations of colonial Latin America. Her scholarly interests extend to early modern literature and history of Spain, Portugal and the New World, translation studies, postcolonial studies, religion studies, and the ethnography of writing. Laura’s research has been awarded a John Carter Brown Fellowship and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Volkswagen Stiftung Fellowship.

Mary Weismantel (Anthropology) is a cultural anthropologist who writes about indigeneity in the Americas, with a focus on Andean South America (Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia). Her writing currently engages new materialisms, decoloniality, and temporality, as well as [trans]gender, sexualities, and ontologies of the nonhuman. Mary teaches about race and racism, Latin America, and ethnographic methods and writing. Her current work concerns the ontologies and temporalities of ancient Pre-Columbian objects in twenty-first century places including museums and World Heritage sites, as well as in a proliferation of online avatars.