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K-State Today

April 13, 2017



Petillo presents on 'policy violence' and addressing indigenous invisibility at annual applied anthropology meeting

By Russell Norris

April Petillo, assistant professor of American ethnic studies, chaired three panels and presented two papers at the 2017 Society for Applied Anthropology meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

As part of a panel addressing political violence and the impact on gender, Petillo presented "Violent Cooptation: How Hate Policy and Scholarly Silence Reify U.S. Settler Violences on Bodies of Color and Difference."

In this interdisciplinary paper, Petillo explores the ways that policymaking processes are co-opted for violent means in the name of the public good. Naming such legislative practices as a form of "policy violence," she uses recent anti-trans bathroom initiatives as well as the political responses to Black Lives Matter protests and Standing Rock water protectors as case studies. Petillo questions how hate policy implicitly shapes what is considered acceptable gender expression as well as tolerable ethnic anger and grief. In doing so, Petillo also directly addresses scholars' responsibilities as public intellectuals to investigate and encourage conversation around the structural similarities that eventually produce more direct forms of social, cultural and physical violence.

Serving as both roundtable panel chair and panelist, Petillo shared her paper "Articulating Decolonized Solidarity: Reflections of an Arrivant Engaged in Anti-Settler Colonial Work" on the panel "Settler Colonial Trappings of Invisible Indigeneity: Social Science and the Responsibility of Representation in the 21st Century."

This scholarly personal narrative begins with Edward Kamau Brathwaite's description of the experience of colonized nonnative people inhabiting indigenous lands  — the Arrivants — and considers the possibilities and challenges of an Arrivant stance in both academia and coalitional community. Petillo draws on autoethnographic methods to examine her observations of attempting coalition as a graduate student and the realities of building intellectual community, which prioritizes decolonization over invisibility. Petillo and other panelists representing indigenous perspectives from U.S. Indian Country, Australia and Aotearoa — the Maori name for the country of New Zealand — argued for greater attention to indigenous defined formulations of identity. They also argued for more inclusion of indigenous concerns in broader conversations around race and the complexities of power, prestige, place and positionality across our political-economic futures.

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