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Audra Simpson

Dept. of Anthropology | Columbia University

My primary research is energized by the problem of recognition, by its passage beyond (and below) the aegis of the state into the grounded field of political self-designation, self-description and subjectivity. This work is motivated by the struggle of Kahnawake Mohawks to find the proper way to afford political recognition to each other, their struggle to do this in different places and spaces and the challenges of formulating membership against a history of colonial impositions. As a result of this ethnographic engagement I am interested especially in those formations of citizenship and nationhood that occur in spite of state power and imposition and in particular, I am interested in declarative and practice-oriented acts of independence. In order to stay faithful to the words of my interlocutors I am interested as well in the use of narrative as data, in alternative forms of ethnographic writing and in critical forms of history. In order to stay faithful to my own wishes, I work at every turn to enter the fields of anthropology and Native American Studies into a critical and constructive dialogue with each other.

My second research project examines the borders of time, history and bodies across and within what is now understood to be the United States and Canada.

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