February 27, 2018

Department of Educational Studies
Critical Dialogues Seminar Series

The Place of the Person and Places that are Persons

Tuesday, February 27th, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Ponderosa Commons Oak House, Room 2012

The Personhood of Place in Indigenous time and space: Ruminations on education and sentient landscapes
Dr. Michael Marker, Department of Educational Studies

In the evolutions of Indigenous scholarship about place and knowledge systems, it has become commonplace to refer to landscapes as having sentience; lands and waters that are aware of human and other life forms. A WSÁNEĆ (Saanich) Coast Salish Elder, in explaining the intimate knowledge of tides required for inter-village canoe travel, told me “we knew the tides as persons and had names for them.” A number of historians and anthropologists who worked respectfully with Indigenous Elders have written about features of landscapes such as mountains, rivers, or glaciers as having personality, consciousness or soulfulness. Indigenous forms of consciousness and responsibility often treat places on landscapes as having a form of personhood. Stories and ceremonies can be methodologies for inquiring into, what, as Julie Cruikshank puts it, the “sentient landscape that listens and responds to human indiscretion” is speaking to with regard to animals, plants, geologic forms, winds, tides and more-than-human entities in intricate contexts of balance. In this talk I consider how Vine Deloria’s famous tenet, “power and place equals personality” is foundational for ecological thinking and understanding Indigenous identity.

Michael Marker is an Associate Professor in Educational Studies and the director of Ts”kel Indigenous Graduate Studies. He was founding director of the Oksale Teacher Education Program at Northwest Indian College at the Lummi reservation in Washington State. His present research brings to light ecological education and place based pedagogies in the Coast Salish region.

The Place of the Person: Towards a Rural Self
Dr. Sam Rocha, Department of Educational Studies

Recent theories of object-oriented ontology, hyperobjects, and the agential being of non-human beings – with analogies to the natural sciences and realist metaphysics – echo and resonate with notions contained and expressed within the teachings of many Indigenous wisdom traditions. The recent literature on both sides often seems to advocate for an erasure of the person but, sure enough, some substitutionary notion of personhood emerges. An antagonism in the field of education has emerged from posthumanists and new materialists who increasingly find themselves uncomfortable with, or ignorant of, Indigenous thought. In this talk, I will trace this controversy to detour into my own ideas in dialogue with Vine Deloria’s theological and metaphysical traces, advocating for an alternative to the space/time continuum presented in God is Red. This alternative, I will claim, can be found in the unique place of the person. I will discuss this place through a speculative personalist notion of solidarity I am working on called “the rural self.”

Sam Rocha is assistant professor of philosophy of education in the Department of Educational Studies at UBC.

Discussant: Dan Clegg

Daniel Clegg is a PhD candidate in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, and Special Education at the University of British Columbia. His doctoral research focuses on decolonial pedagogy in counselling psychology graduate training. He holds an MA in counselling psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology and is a registered counsellor.