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Keynote by Dylan Robinson: "Indigenous Listening Kinship with Non-Human Relations", Sept. 13, 2022

Dylan Robinson is a xwélmexw scholar and artist (Stó:lō/Skwah) and Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia in the School of Music, and Advisor to the Dean on Indigenous Arts in lhq’a:lets / Vancouver, Canada. (See bio below) His landmark book Hungry Listening. Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies (2020) is very important for the Sounding Crisis research project of the Sound Studies Lab at the University of Copenhagen; thus, it is a great honor and pleasure for its members that Dylan will give a key-note lecture at the conference "What Sounds Do: New Directions in an Anthropology of Sound."

The title of Dylan's key-note lecture is "Indigenous Listening with Non-Human Relations," and in his abstract, he writes:

"Indigenous people continue to contend with Western ontologies that have come to define the boundaries of life and being. We contend with them externally—through conversations with museums, in educational contexts, and with government policy of the settler state—and at times, we contend among ourselves with the absence of knowledge that has resulted from the long-term, explicit attempts to erase our varied practices of relation with non-human beings through colonial education and government policy. We contend with the words animism and fetishization that arose out of others’ attempts to comprehend how Indigenous ontologies affirm life as it lives variously in spoken word, stones, skies, land, and the materiality of the world. Our songs also hold life, but although many refer to “the heartbeat of the drum,” Indigenous songs do not live as humans live. Through ethnographic recordings held by museums, our songs continue to live. While returning songs and other ancestors to our communities is one important aspect of redress, a different kind of work is required to reconnect kinship with the more-than-human life of Indigenous song and land. Here, artwork by Peter Morin (Tahltan) and Rebecca Belmore (Anishinaabe) foster reconnection and centre Indigenous listening kinship."

Dylan Robinson is a xwélmexw artist, curator and writer from the Stó:lō First Nations community of Skwah. From 2015-2022 he was the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University. This Fall he began a new appointment as Associate Professor in the School of Music at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Robinson’s work spans the areas of Indigenous sound studies and public art, and takes various forms including event scores, autotheory, gatherings, and inter-arts creation. This range of forms offers a space to integrate the sonic, visual, poetic and material that are often integrated in Stó:lō cultural work. His book, Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies (University Minnesota Press, 2020), examines Indigenous and settler colonial listening practices.

Dylan will give his key-note lecture on September 13, from 16:30 to 17:30. The conference "What Sounds Do: New Directions in an Anthropology of Sound" is organized by the Sound Studies Lab of the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the Rhythmic Music Conservatory (RMC) and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen (Denmark). The conference will take place from September 13 to 16, 2022.

On September 14, from 10:00 to 12:30, Dylan Robinson will also attend the presentation "Sonic Energies of the Climate Catastrophe in Denmark and Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland)" and participate as the respondent to it in the public workshop "Sounding Crisis in Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland). Sonic Agency in Times of Climate Change." Both events take place at the RMC ( Leo Mathisens Vej 1, DK-1437 København K).

The conference is funded by Carlsbergfondet and the RMC. The invitation of Dylan Robinson has been made possible by additional funding from the research clusters "Global Entanglements: Critical approaches to the impact of cultural exchange" and "Art and earth" of the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen as well as through the research project Sounding Crisis, which has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101027286.

On behalf of the Sound Studies Lab, I express our gratitude to the various funders and, of course, especially to Dylan Robinson, for accepting the invitation. We are very much looking forward to welcoming you to Copenhagen, Dylan.


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