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About the event

Join us for a screening and discussion with filmmakers Adam and Zack Khalil and artist Jackson Polys on their recent collaboration The Violence of a Civilization Without Secrets. The short film investigates the imbrication of museum collecting, anthropology, and colonial violence through the case of the Kennewick Man, a prehistoric Paleoamerican man whose remains were found in Kennewick, Washington State in 1996. Anne Spice (Anthropology, The Graduate Center, CUNY) will respond to the film's provocations from an anthropological perspective and towards a decolonial praxis with recent political actions in mind.

The Umatilla people and other tribes battled in court against forensic anthropologists and white supremacists attempting to establish white ancestry for the remains, a contest which became synonymous with the undermining of Indigenous sovereignty over land and ancestors and centuries of colonial violence. The evolving science of DNA and cranial morphology was grotesquely called in to testify to the purity of the bones’ ethnicity, while Native claims to embodied knowledge had little power in addressing the court.

The participants will discuss the questions broached by the film around the violence of museum archives, Indigenous futures, and post-mortem justice in a settler colonial state. The screening will include footage from other works-in-progress by the artists to expand on the thematic content of the film and to further stimulate discussion.

Co-sponsored by the Doctoral Students' Council at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and the James Gallery.