This is my 250-word reflection about the American Historical Association conference in Chicago (January 2019), written in exchange for a travel grant to attend the conference. “Reflections should not be a summary but rather a provocative and interesting reaction,” so hopefully I delivered.
At #AHA19, I was able to reconnect with colleagues, forge new connections with other historians of cartography, and score some free books in the Exhibition Hall. I also attended several fascinating panels and had an invigorating poster presentation session.
After reading Dr. Owens’s call for land acknowledgements on Twitter, I was pleased to note that two of the speakers in Panel 100: “Indigenous People, Colonialism, Sovereignty, and Dam Projects in the Americas” offered territorial acknowledgements during their talks. Drs. Bauer, Stunden Bower, Garza, and Huettl presented a transnational panel about Indigenous removal and resistance to water projects in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
As an interdisciplinary scholar, I appreciated their use of photographic archives, oral histories, and cartography. As a transnational scholar, I enjoyed the broad range of their case studies, which covered ground from the Round Valley Indian Reservation in California to Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Reservation and Historyland in Wisconsin to Métis communities in the Canadian Prairies to Mexico City.
This panel offered excellent examples of oral history, “red-lining” the archive (offering an Indigenous [a play on the trope “red Indians”] reading of official government documents – looking for who is present and who is absented), personal experiences, and Indigenous counter-mapping. Much more work remains to be done in these areas, and I look forward to AHA’s continued involvement in supporting local, transnational, and Indigenous historical research.
While I was impressed with the facilitation, presentations, and audience engagement during the question and answer period, I echo Dr. Owens’s request for stronger Indigenous involvement at future AHA conferences, including land acknowledgements beyond Indigenous-topic panels as well as local community engagement.
As a Twitterstorian, I enjoyed connecting with various digital personalities at the Twitterstorians reception on Thursday evening.
On a personal note, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to avail myself of the plentiful hors d’oeuvres at the reception for Graduate Students. It was a fun kick off the conference.