Monday, December 3, 2012

New Directions Proposal: Rhetorical Realities: Native American Resistance to the Bering Strait Migration Theory and the Political Appropriation of Knowledge

Ryan Edel will present "Rhetorical Realities: Native American Resistance to the Bering Strait Migration Theory and the Political Appropriation of Knowledge"

Abstract: In Red Earth, White Lies, Vine Deloria, Jr., actively challenges the Bering Strait migration theory on the grounds that it is not only insufficiently supported by scientific evidence, but that the theory itself has been used to label the Native American presence in the Western Hemisphere as mere immigration, hence devaluing Native American rights in relation to the later Euro-American colonists.  The resulting dispute with scientists is emblematic of a larger cultural disconnect between scientists, nonscientists, and those who appropriate scientific data in order to promote political aims.

I argue that scientists' attempts to position themselves as apolitical has prevented them from resisting (and has at times caused them to actively participate in) the Euro-American misappropriation of scientific evidence to justify the oppression of Native Americans.  As a result, Native Americans who would resist the imposed ethos of Euro-American colonization are forced to also to reject the logos of science.

My methodology involves extending Thomas Kuhn's conception of the scientific paradigm to Sharon Crowley's consideration of Christian fundamentalism in order to examine the rhetorical disconnect between scientists of the Francis Bacon tradition and strict followers of Native American and Judeo-Christian creation narratives.  I will then discuss resistance to the Bering Strait theory as compared to the Christian-sponsored promotion of intelligent design.

Ryan Edel is a second-year Ph.D. student in creative writing and rhetoric at Illinois State University.  In his creative works, he explores science fiction as a way to develop the ""coming-of-age"" story in a rapidly-changing society.  His rhetorical focus is on examining the uses of political rhetoric to establish and reinforce common cultural realities.

Ryan is currently the Technology Coordinator for the ISU Writing Program, and his pedagogical goals include utilizing technology to increase and enhance student-to-teacher and student-to-student interactions outside the classroom.

Previously, he earned his MFA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins.  He also served five years in the U.S. Army, including three years with the 82nd Airborne Division and a ten-month deployment to Afghanistan.

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