February 18, 2015
11:30am to 12:30pm

Campbell 3232


A research talk with Dr. Matt Hooley

As American and Environmental Studies have become transnational, they have gravitated toward water—as a metaphor of cultural/capital movement (in flows, cross/currents, circulations), as a site of disciplinary reorganization (the transatlantic, black Atlantic, Pacific Rim), and as an substrate whose traversal has defined and stabilized key political stances (internationalism, diaspora, exile). 

This talk reconsiders this relationship in light of the settler colonial production of permanent drought in Indian Country. What happens to and because of the scale of our thinking about water, as it stands for exchange, hybridization, or translation, but also for the enervation of Native political economies via extractive settler colonialism? Specifically, I will read the Diné photographer Will Wilson’s series Auto-Immune Response as a counterpoint to depression-era photographs of Dinétah, by Milton Snow, used by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to justify Navajo livestock reduction—a devastating demonstration of the settler politics of exhaustion. 

Wilson’s photography reveals a scene of American environmental transnationalism in which the nation occurs not as an expansive (or even a constellated or dispersed) project, but an incomplete, dependent, exhaustive, and exhausting one. Here, the expropriation of Native ecological resources is an originary site of colonial capital, whose reperformance (through history, across Native territories) operates not as an event, but an infrastructure of state violence which secures global networks of US power



Dr. Hooley is an Assistant Professor of English at Texas Tech University and co-director of the Literature, Social Justice and Environment Program. As a visiting scholar in American Indian Studies, Professor Hooley is working on a book project titled Ordinary Empire: Native Modernism and the Settler State.