The conference ended a couple of days ago, and I’m off in a few minutes to catch a train for a day trip to an open-air museum in another part of Holland, but I want to catch up the conference story just a bit. Our panel presented on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday morning I discovered this blog summary from “Mr J,” another conference participant. Many thanks, Mr J, for your kind words!
The high point of the day, indeed of the conference so far, was the afternoon session on “Animism as a path to decolonising the Academy”. This was a really brilliant session in a number of ways. It was led by four powerful women – two academics: Priscilla Stuckey and Mary Jeanne Barrett, and two representatives of American First Nations; Linda Hogan and Shauneen Pete. While there were robust academic discussions as part of this session, each chose to tell stories in order to express their own narrative of what Animism (and indeed what “the Academy”) might mean. These varied from Shauneen’s beautiful rendition of a story about Raven creating Mankind (in a powerful and flowing embodied presentation) to Priscilla’s discussion of her relationship with a tree in her parent’s garden, and how it had come to visit her before it was cut down. Mary Jeanne raised some interesting ideas about how it might be legitimate to present information, in discussion of her own thesis (a hyperlinked website that raises the question of how academia can include the voices of the animate earth – it’s amazing). Linda read an incredibly moving account of a Deer Dance that she had attended, in fact the whole session was moving, and powerful. This was not the usual ho-hum academic bull, but four powerful advocates of the animate earth, four representatives of the myriads of the others with whom we are interdependent.
Mr J did a better job than I could have of reporting what happened. I was too involved in the moment to be able to remember very well! What I do recall was that an hour of spirited, sometimes edgy, discussion ensued, which everyone (including me) appeared to enjoy a great deal.
After the session a woman came up to me and thanked me for the tree story. “It helped me remember what is inside me too,” she said. “I will remember it always.” So of course I teared up too to hear that someone had been so moved. She alone made the whole trip worthwhile.