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3- Indigenous Protocols and Affects of Meeting – Beverley Diamond, Memorial University of Newfoundland

10:30 AM, Saturday 25 May 2019 (2 hours)
Lunch   12:30 PM to 01:30 PM (1 hour)
Indigenous meetings often begin with protocol: formalized speech, song, and/or dance. If we take seriously what ethnomusicologist Denise Gill has recently argued, that affect is an “embodied process that one practices” (2018, 6), what affect are people practicing as performing or listening participants? What histories are articulated? What power do these moments of articulation have for different attendees? Phenomenologist Emmanuel Levinas posited that our “being” and our concepts of ethical responsibility are deeply formed (and reformed over time) by face to face encounters where the “nudity” and “vulnerability” of the face invites an ethical and responsible relationship (1961). He acknowledges that local histories and cultural norms shape encounter. Relationality and responsibility are, of course, central tenets of Indigenous philosophy. Maori scholar Aileen Moreton-Robinson, for instance, observes that “relationality forms the conditions of possibility for coming to know and producing knowledge through research in a given time, place and land” (2017, 71). Anishnabe phenomenologist Dolleen Manning expands the conversation to include mnidoo, the spirit and “potencies” of all life on earth (2016). I query what these and other Indigenous scholars might say to Levinas about affect and face-to-face encounters such as: a performance of a Christian hymn for the truth and reconciliation commission, or a request to come ashore on the land of a different First Nation and the subsequent welcoming of guests through song. Can “affect” be practised so that instances of fear, arrogance, or impatience might be relearned to become openness, humility or respect for sovereignty?
Memorial University
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