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34th American Indian Workshop - Call for papers

Among Native North Americans, art has not traditionally been something separated from daily life, everyday items and ceremonial paraphernalia. Also, historically none of the Native languages contained a word which can be regarded as synonymous with the post-Renaissance Western concept of art, which is usually seen as being separable from the rest of daily life. Traditionally, especially in social and ceremonial connections, American Indian art went beyond reflecting merely aesthetic values, and today it can serve both individual aesthetic needs as well as emphasize cultural continuity.

Since the first encounters, European artists have depicted the indigenous people of North America from the perspective of Western worldviews. Paintings, drawings, photographs, theatre, literature, and movies have all shaped images of American Indians at the same time as building the myth of the American West. However, taking source criticism into account, European works of art can also be considered documentary art.

The objective of the 34th American Indian Workshop at the University of Helsinki is to examine American Indian arts as well as European/Euro-American depictions of the indigenous people of North America from a broad perspective. What is Native American “art”? What forms did/does Native American “art” take? What part did/does “art” play in the tribal community? How and why were/are indigenous Americans depicted in Western arts? Have representations of Indians changed over time?

Presentation proposals are invited from all academic disciplines dealing broadly with these subjects. The deadline for proposals is November 15, 2012. Papers from various disciplines are welcome, covering, for example, the following aspects: traditional Native American arts, Native American arts vs. crafts, museum collections, materials and techniques, religious and ceremonial art, art as social representations, Native American music and dance, contemporary Native American arts, Native American literature, Native American performances, Native American films, European/Euro-American views of Native Americans, Native American views of the indigenous people of North America, the myth of the American West and Indians within visual expressions, Native Americans in popular culture, stereotypes of Native Americans, and so on.

Please send your proposals of no more than 300 words and a short bio (max 75 words) via email to These documents can be sent as a regular email or as an attachment. Please use a regular file format (.rtf, .doc, .docx).

The conference registration fee is 30 € (20 € for undergraduate students).