Call for Papers

Speech Acts & Joyous Utterances Conference: June 19th-22nd, 2014

University of Toronto

Aboriginal Studies Program, Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives, Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts

Speech Acts & Joyous Utterances: Translating, Teaching, Learning & Living, Indigenous Tribalographies

As Indigenous people in Canada struggle to revitalize and preserve our languages, we are faced with some interesting challenges. Regardless of our level of proficiency with an Aboriginal language, learners and teachers alike are carried into the necessary project of translation—translation of treaties (paper, wampum, covenant chains, medals), of earth works, or of oral archives (story, song, regalia, ceremonial objects). Moving between languages, we move between vastly differing worlds governed by cosmologies and knowledge systems that cannot be reconciled with those of the dominant culture. Aniishinaabemowin, for instance, transports us into a world linguistically shaped by four grammatical persons (instead of three), into a system of thought shaped by an additional and linguistically unique tense (obviative), and by the structural pillars of action and relationship, which shape the language and the lived reality of the Anishinaabeg.

The “written” archives that have been left for Indigenous peoples across Canada present those of us who labor to recover our cultural legacies with unique challenges and compelling questions as we strive to grasp the layered meanings encoded in the signs and symbols that constitute the histories authored by our ancestors. How are we to engage with these archives? How, specifically, might their texts facilitate our projects of language acquisition and preservation? What is the relationship between the three-dimensional “archive” (the human body and the land that directs its movements) and the two-dimensional archive that has been left for us by our ancestors? Within this relationship, how are our languages evolving?

The Aboriginal Studies Program (ABS) and the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives (CAI) at the University of Toronto invite abstracts for conference papers, proposals for working groups, and proposals for workshops or art-installations from community members, scholars, speakers and students of Indigenous languages who are interested in the aforementioned questions and in the challenges that accompany the project of Indigenous Language Preservation.

Abstracts and proposals (250-350 words) should be sent as email attachments in Word format to Jill Carter ( by February 25th, 2014. Please include your contact information.

Unfortunately, the Aboriginal Studies Program cannot offer funds for travel or accommodation to conference participants