The Art of Survivance

Conference of the College Art Association (CAA), February 12-15, 2014, Chicago

Sascha Scott, Syracuse University,

concept of “survivance” is a powerful tool for thinking about cultural
production by indigenous peoples. Proposed by Anishinaabe cultural theorist,
Gerald Vizenor, survivance emphasizes survival through active resistance to
oppressive forces. The concept thus provides a way to counter the historically
pervasive idea that indigenous peoples have been passive survivors of colonial
domination. Within the framework of survivance, “resistance” should not be
understood as a purely negative reaction to colonial victimization. Indigenous
resistance can involve cultural negotiation and can be a vehicle through which
indigenous peoples claim their authority, autonomy, and sovereignty.

has been productively explored in literary theory, indigenous studies,
museology, and anthropology, but has gained less traction in art history. This
panel seeks to explore the ways in which survivance can be used to understand
the production, consumption, collection, exhibition, and circulation of visual
media and objects created by indigenous artists. Of central interest are
discussions of indigenous people who have strived to maintain their cultural
traditions in the face of imperialism in its varied forms—colonization,
political oppression, cultural appropriation and exploitation, etc. Papers are
welcome that address indigenous visual and material culture from contact
through the present. Scholars from a range of disciplines are encouraged to
submit proposals, as are practicing artists.

J. Deloria will be the discussant for this session.

send abstract, recent CV, and CAA conference application to Sascha Scott ( by May 6, 2013.

individual membership is required of all participants. For more information, visit:

Recommended Posts