CFP: “Playing Indian” at SECAC 2022

Please consider submitting to the session, Playing Indian: An American Visual Politic at SECAC’s 2022 annual conference, October 26-29 in Baltimore.

In his 1994 seminal book, Playing Indian, Philip Deloria describes the specifically American, primitivist phenomena of Indian Play. Beginning with national founding moments, such as colonists donning pseudo-Mohawk costumes to dump tea into the Boston harbor, Deloria describes how, “for the next two hundred years, white Americans molded similar narratives of national identity around the rejection of an older European consciousness and an almost mystical imperative to become new” (2).  Playing Indian, appearing in such diverse forms from the Boy Scouts to the New Age Movement, encapsulates the paradoxical desire to both glorify and become the “Indian” but also erase actual Indigenous peoples and cultures. Because of the desire to appear as native, Playing Indian is an overwhelmingly visual politic, however, Indian Play has received little art historical attention, outside the work of some Americanists studying the early 20th century, such as Elizabeth Hutchinson or John Ott. This panel seeks to begin to address this scholarly gap by featuring examples of Playing Indian from across American visual culture whether that be representations from popular culture such as sports mascots, accounts of artists and others, such as Jimmie Durham, erroneously claiming Indigenous identities, or responses to these histories from Indigenous artists.

The Call for Papers for SECAC 2022 in Baltimore is open through May 19 at https://secac.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/16/home.

A list of sessions is available at https://secac.secure-platform.com/a/page/sessions.

Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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