Project Details


Praxes of Indigenous Knowledge and Collective Mentorship: Indigenous Origin and Migration as Collective Praxis Praxes of Indigenous Knowledge and Collective Mentorship: Indigenous Origin and Migration as Collective Praxis Indigenous visibility is often shaped by the institutions inability to imagine us as we are. More often than not, we are seen as the sum of our traumas and losses, amplified by the ways the institution believes we have failed based on their terms of success. For too long, education has framed Indigenous knowledges as problems to be taken care of through erasure, assimilation, and minimization. If academic structures do not change to reflect or honor Indigenous realities, we continue to replicate a devastating educational system of extraction. Praxes of Indigenous Knowledge and Collective Mentorship (hereafter Collective Mentorship) will forefront Indigenous learners and scholars, their communal strengths, pathways for creating a collective presence in the university, and discourse concerning the memory and future of our communities and nation. How might we imagine Indigenous students and facultys freedom of thought and expression through Indigenous terms? What does it mean to be visible and present on ones own terms? What structures are necessary to create a permanent presence? How might these new structures re-frame academic institutions? ASUs Center for Imagination in the Borderlands (CIB), where Collective Mentorship will be housed, is invested in these questions, among others. Funded in part by the Office of the President, CIB was created in January 2020 to address a lack of Indigenous spaces and conversations from within the borderlands rather than about the borderlands. CIB activates an Indigenous lens of place as a way to engage and constellate ontologies and praxises that are rooted in origins of land, water, language, and community. In doing so, it serves as a conduit for Indigenous imagination and scholarship, and is invested in the collective ways we imagine our pasts and futures, as both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. CIB was designed to bring Indigenous knowledge to bear on conversations in which Indigenous students, faculty, and community members participate, as well as conversations that have traditionally omitted Indigenous perspectives. CIB is led by Natalie Diaz, who is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Akimel Oodham Gila River Indian Community, upon whose lands and waters the University is located. In the short amount of time it has existed, CIB has already convened national and international scholars, artists, and activists (including Indigenous Elders) to build collective inquiries. Our initial covenings explored urgent issues including: the histories and impacts of surveillance technologies on Indigenous, Black, and migrant populations; carceral systems and their practices against Indigenous, migrant, and other underserved communities; the relationship between environmental and racial justice in reservations and border towns; Indigenous and diasporic languages and their ties to land and imagination; the relationship between Indigenous and Black communities nationally and globally; and the power of art and poetry as a collective remembering and imagining of Indigenous and non-Indigenous freedom. CIBs initiatives have already catalyzed structural change. For example, local Indigenous languages, such as Ootham, have been included in ASUs School of International Letters and Cultures, which formerly dislocated Indigenous languages from other learned languages. Since its launch event, CIB has established itself as a space of collaboration and collective imaginings. The CIB is partnering with Englishs Film and Media Studies to develop programming for Native filmmakers; collaborating with ASU Music Department to program Indigenous musicians in their yearly event, and partnering with ASUs Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies to bring Mohegan playwright Madeline Sayet as a visiting scholar who will develop a course and workshops. We consider these collaborations as the beginning of a lasting conversation about Indigenous presence within the Humanities. Yet, there is more work to do. Through Collective Mentorship, we will create a structure of sustained, interdisciplinary, intergenerational conversations to locate questions crucial to Indigenous scholarship and creative freedom, as well as to actuate institutional supports vital for Indigenous imagination and intellectualism to thrive. This structure will introduce a new model of mentorship and collective scholarship that will prepare emerging Indigenous scholars to understand, through practice, the importance of relationships, and activate the reciprocity necessary for new generations of scholars to design a comprehensive future. With the support of the Mellon Foundation, we will reimagine the way knowledge is produced in the institution, reconnect knowledge production with Indigenous realities and values, and create academic structures that honor knowledge creation for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Effective start/end date1/1/2112/31/24


  • Mellon (Andrew W.) Foundation: $4,279,000.00


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