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The Underneath of Home: Settler Homemaking as "Veritable Apocalypse"

Yi-Fu Lecture by Esme Murdock, PhD, of San Diego State University

Event Details

Friday, February 18, 2022
3:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Department of Geography and the Department of American Indian Studies, this presentation by San Diego State University assistant professor Esme Murdock examines the hidden agencies of settler homes made with stolen Indigenous lands, labors, and lives through a close analysis of Fleur Pillager's revenge upon the colonizer who stole her tribe's wooded territories in Louise Erdrich's Four Souls.

In this presentation, Dr. Murdock puts the forced navigation of ecological and existential violence that settler worlds require of the colonized in conversation with the making of terror and terrortories expressed by Frantz Fanon in Wretched of the Earth as the experience of "veritable apocalypse."

Specifically, she examines how Fleur uses her tracking skills to repossess her homelands through her navigation of the house itself and through inscribing a familiarity within the domicile that is largely illegible to settlers. As such, she carves out a space for examining the environmental agency of land, territory, built-environment, and the transmogrification of the more-than-human world and relatives in contexts of settler colonialism as well as the decolonial praxis enacted through the creative adaptation of Indigenous kinship practices to these circumstances. 

Esme G. Murdock received her Ph.D. in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies and Associate Director of the College of Arts and Letters' Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs at San Diego State University.

Her research interests include environmental justice, Indigenous and Afro-descended environmental ethics, settler colonial theory, and decolonization as land/resource rematriation. Murdock comes to this work as a descendant of enslaved Africans and settlers in North America. Her current work explores the devastating impacts of colonization and slavery on both Indigenous and Afro-descended peoples and environments on Turtle Island. She anchors her understanding of settler colonialism, in particular, in the experiences and theorization of Native and Black communities especially toward securing decolonial futures. She often writes back to mainstream environmental discourse that attempts to “read out” colonization as the context of environmental degradation and destruction, particularly in the settler colonies of the United States and Canada. Her work centers conceptions of land and relating to land found within both Indigenous and African American/Afro-descended environmental philosophies. Murdock has work published in Environmental Values, Global Ethics, Hypatia, Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, and World Philosophies.

The Yi-Fu Lecture Series features a wide variety of U.S. and international guest lecturers from all geographic disciplines. Lecturers at these Friday seminars also often speak at brown-bag lunches, one-on-one student sessions, and breakfast meetings with student interest groups as part of their visit. Doctoral students are invited to present their final research. The lecture series was initiated by Dr. Yi-Fu Tuan of the Department of Geography and receives enthusiastic support as a department and campus tradition.