You are here:Home/Research/ Garden and Landscape Studies/ Scholarly Activities/ Call for Papers—Land Back: Indigenous Landscapes of Resurgence and Freedom

Call for Papers—Land Back: Indigenous Landscapes of Resurgence and Freedom

Dumbarton Oaks Music Room
April 30  –  May 1, 2021
Submissions due August 10, 2020 | Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium, in partnership with the Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies

Symposiarchs: Michelle Daigle and Heather Dorries, faculty in the Department of Geography & Planning and Centre for Indigenous Studies, University of Toronto

Relations to land are a fundamental component of Indigenous worldviews, politics, and identity. The violent disruption of land relations is a defining feature of colonialism and imperialism; colonial governments have territorialized Indigenous lands and bodies and undermined Indigenous political authority through gendered and racialized hierarchies of difference. Consequently, Indigenous resistance and visions for justice and liberation are bound up with land and land-body relationships that challenge colonial power. “Land back” has become a slogan for Indigenous land protectors. Relations to land are foundational to political transformations envisioned and mobilized through Indigenous resurgence praxes. As Leanne Betasamosake Simpson explains, land relations provide a “place-based ethical framework” that enables “process-centered modes of living that generate profoundly different conceptualizations of nationhood and governmentality—ones that aren’t based on enclosure, authoritarian power, and hierarchy” (L. Simpson 2017, 22). In this context, the term land does much heavy lifting. Mishuana Goeman observes that in Indigenous studies “[land] is often conflated to mean landscape, territory, home, or all or some of these simultaneously. . . . Unpacking and thinking about land means to understand the physical and metaphysical in relation to the concepts of place, territory, and home” (Goeman 2015, 72).

In this symposium, we aim to highlight the many ways Indigenous peoples understand and practice land relations for political resurgence and freedom across the Americas, by refusing colonial territorializations of Indigenous land and life-making practices (A. Simpson 2014a). Our intention is to place Indigenous practices of freedom within the particularities of Indigenous place-based laws, cosmologies, and diplomacies, while also taking a hemispheric approach to understanding how Indigeneity is shaped across colonial borders. We seek papers from both emerging and established scholars, artists, community organizers, and design and planning practitioners that highlight how Indigenous peoples are reconceptualizing land relations to renew Indigenous environmental knowledge. We welcome contributions focused on contemporary engagements with land as well as papers that foreground the historical conditions that inform resistance and resurgence today. We are particularly interested in papers working at the intersection of Indigenous studies and the fields associated with landscape studies, including geography, political ecology, landscape architecture, planning, art history, and archaeology. We invite contributions that center Indigenous resistance and resurgence across various topics:

  • Indigenous law and ecological knowledge, for instance as expressed through concepts such as sumak kawsay or mino-bimaadiziwin, and their relation to environmental justice (Gudynas 2011; McGregor 2016)
  • Approaches to landscape architecture, planning, or environmental design that foreground Indigenous knowledge or ecological practices, with potential focus on participatory design practice, community building through design, environmental justice, foodways, and climate change
  • Indigenous conceptualizations of gender and sexuality and relationships between land/water/bodies, or that center Indigenous women and queer, Two-Spirit, and trans bodies as political orders to explore how Indigenous landscape practices are connected to gender variance, queerness, and sex sovereignty, or how the erotic encourages decolonial resistance and futures (Belcourt 2017; A. Simpson 2014b; L. Simpson 2017; Wilson and Laing 2019; Women’s Earth Alliance and Native Youth Sexual Health Network 2016)
  • Collective struggles for land and space and shared visions of liberation and freedom activated by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) practices of resistance, abolition, resurgence, and freedom (Daigle and Ramírez 2019)

Submission Requirements

  • Submit a 500-word abstract and curriculum vitae as a single PDF to by August 10, 2020. Please use the file-naming convention: Last Name_CFP 2021 Symposium. Put “CFP 2021 Symposium” in the subject line.
  • Submissions by more than one author are welcome, but travel reimbursement and accommodations can only be offered to the principal author.
  • Due to the uncertainties of COVID19, we want to remind potential contributors that we may have to modify or reschedule this symposium.  This would include a possible virtual format in which case we would not be offering travel and accommodations. We will inform contributors as soon as we can of any possible changes to our plans.
  • Invited speakers will be asked to commit to their participation in the GLS 2021 symposium and should plan to attend April 30–May 1, 2021.

Works Cited

Belcourt, Billy-Ray
2017. “Indigenous Studies Beside Itself.” Somatechnics 7, no. 2 (September): 182–184.

Daigle, Michelle, and Margaret Marietta Ramírez
2019. “Decolonial Geographies.” In Keywords in Radical Geography: Antipode at 50, 78–84.

Goeman, Mishuana
2015. “Land as Life: Unsettling the Logics of Containment.” In Native Studies Keywords, edited by Stephanie Nohelani Teves, Andrea Smith, and Michelle H. Raheja, 71–89. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Gudynas, Eduardo
2011. “Buen Vivir: Today's Tomorrow.” Development 54, no. 4 (December): 441–447.

McGregor, Deborah
2016. “Living Well with the Earth.” In Handbook of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, edited by Corrine Lennox and Damien Short, 167–180. London: Routledge.

Simpson, Audra
2014a. Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of Settler States. Durham: Duke University Press
2014b. “The Chief ‘s Two Bodies.” Paper presented at the Annual Critical Race and Anticolonial Studies Conference, Edmonton, AB, Canada. 110948627

Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake
2017. As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Wilson, Alex, and Marie Laing
2019. “Queering Indigenous Education.” In Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education: Mapping the Long View, edited by Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Eve Tuck, and K. Wayne Yang, 131–145. New York: Routledge.

Women’s Earth Alliance and Native Youth Sexual Health Network
2016. Violence on the Land, Violence on Our Bodies: Building an Indigenous Response to Environmental Violence. Berkeley: Women’s Earth Alliance/Toronto: Native Youth Sexual Health Network.

Garden River Bridge, Ketegaunseebee, Ontario, Canada. Image courtesy Stan Williams Photography,