Why are you here and what do you need to know to live well in the world?
What are your responsibilities?
What are the founding myths and creation stories that inform what your role, purpose and responsibilities are in the world, where you fit?
Who are your ancestors and where are they now? What do they have to do with where you are now?
What will you do to be a good ancestor?
Is this a game? It could be a game. But it’s also a discussion. An occasion to think. A point on a moral compass. A place from which to ask other questions, to find things out. A way of saying these things are not beside the point where we are; they are, on the contrary, the point. Herein, pathways to “higher learning”; this way connection, relation, interrelationship. This way listening.
This too is important: I am not the author of these questions, just a body through which they may (also) be transmitted. My list of debts is infinitely long.
Here are some of them in the form a list of books, but they also include all my students, all my teachers, those gardens and creatures I have do and will know, vessels that keep me safe, waters that challenge, all my relations.
13 books that changed how I thought, taught or made work in 2021
1. Robin Wall Kimmerer (Potawatomi) Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Milkweed Editions, 2013.
2. Max Liboiron (Michif-settler) Pollution is Colonialism. Duke UP, 2021.
3. Robert MacFarlane (Scots) Underland: A Deep Time Journey. Penguin/Random House, 2019.
4. Saidiya Hartman (African-American) Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2007.
5. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg) As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance. Minnesota, 2017.
6. Rebecca Solnit (USA-Jewish/Catholic settler) The Faraway Nearby. Penguin, 2013.
7. Andri Snaer Magnason (Icelandic) On Time and Water, Lytton Smith, trans. Biblioasis, 2019.
8. Jane Alison (USA-unmarked) Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative. Catapult, 2019.
9. Kathryn Yusoff (UK, unmarked) A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None. U Minnesota, 2015.
10. Macarena Gómez-Barris (USA-Latinx), The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives. Duke, 2017.
11. Wu Ming-yi (Han Chinese, Taiwan) The Man with the Compound Eyes (novel), Darryl Stark, trans. Vintage, 2013.
12. Sayak Valencia (Chicanx) Gore Capitalism, John Plueker, trans. MIT/Semiotext(e), 2018.
13. Anne Carson (Canada, unmarked), Norma Jeane Baker of Troy (poetry/drama). New Directions, 2019.
Written/imaged in and from unceded Eskikewa’kik, Mi’kma’ki, where I am an uninvited guest.