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Queering Like a State: Unsettling the Archives of National Belonging

Fri, October 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Sheraton Centre, Pine


Contemporary debates in the U.S. about indigenous belonging and exclusion seem inevitably to invoke the Dawes rolls, census-like paper records that were generated on a massive scale after the General Allotment Act of 1887. These handwritten ledgers are typically understood as a vexed archive of nation, indigeneity, and enforced racialization --evidencing authenticity for some and/or colonial destruction for others. This paper attends to the sexual imaginary structuring the Dawes rolls. To what extent might these documents be understood as a foundational federal archive for a queer history of white settler colonialism? But also: what is at stake in claiming them for such a project? What are the limits or possibilities of understanding the white settler state (as materialized in its archives) as a kind of "queering machine" rather than focusing our attention on the state's production of individuals included in or excluded from the national fold?


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