Stories from the Margins: Indigenous Connections to the Land

University of Northumbria 29-30 June 2021


Confirmed Keynote Speakers


Prof. Lill Tove Fredriksen (UiT The Arctic University of Norway)
Conversation between Prof. David Stirrup (University of Kent, U.K.) and Anishinaabe, Métis and settler-Irish artist Elizabeth LaPensee

The term “Indigenous” encompasses a wide range of peoples, diverse culturally, linguistically and geographically. Originating from the Latin root indigena, which means “sprung from the land”, it has been used in international and United Nations contexts to define peoples in relation to their colonisers.

While there are many differences among Indigenous groups, land plays a foundational role in Indigenous belief systems and lifeways:

“all healing comes from the earth. Plants not only have healing powers, but they communicate with us… The spirit of the earth and of the land … is central to our understanding of the world and our well-being as Indigenous peoples…Land is the foundation of everything for [Indigenous peoples], now and into the future.” (C. Belcourt 2018, 114-116)

Relationships to the land are familial, intimate, intergenerational, spiritual and instructive for Indigenous peoples and it is these relations that Western settler societies sought to destroy as part of their colonial project of territorial conquest and forced assimilation policies. Indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to how colonial empires have compromised their rights to traditional lands, territories and natural resources.

We invite proposals for papers that examine how Indigenous stories – told, written, sung or performed – reflect Indigenous connections to the land and how these relations have been affected by the colonial enterprise. “[S]tories are a type of medicine and, like medicine, can be healing or poisonous depending on the dosage or type”, Terry Tayofa (2005), an Indigenous psychologist from the Warm Springs and Taos Pueblo, explains. How does Indigenous storytelling contribute to understanding Indigenous identity and the crucial role of land in Indigenous ways of life? How can Indigenous storytelling subvert colonial narratives of the land? How can storytelling contribute to addressing colonial exploitations of the land and its resources? How can storytelling assist Indigenous peoples in restoring their intimate relations to land and its natural gifts?




We welcome proposals for a range of presentation formats, including traditional 20-minute conference papers, panels, video presentations and we are open to alternative and creative formats.


Topics that may be covered include, but are not limited to, how Indigenous storytelling addresses the following:


Land and Indigenous identity
Land, healing and ceremony
Land and Indigenous creation stories
Settler-colonial myths about the land
Land and the colonial space
Land claims and broken treaties
Land and Indigenous urban spaces
Land and the Indigenous (female) body
Land, Indigeneity and environmental justice
Land, Indigeneity and climate change

Paper proposals and video presentations: please send 250-300 word abstracts, accompanied by a 100-word biographical statement (state affiliation if applicable) and 3-4 keywords.


Panels: panel proposals of no more than 3 speakers should include a 100 word summary of the overall theme, plus 250-300 word abstracts and 3-4 keywords per speaker. Please include short biographical statements (100 words – state affiliation if applicable) for all contributors, including chairs/respondents.


Social distancing rules permitting, the conference will take place at the University of Northumbria, with the option of live-streaming presentations if the current pandemic prevents on-site gatherings.


Please e-mail your proposal in a Word document to conference organiser Francesca Mussi of the University of Northumbria at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 11th December 2020.


Please feel free to share this invitation with your network.

With best wishes,


Dr Francesca Mussi

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Department of Humanities

Northumbria University