‘If Our People Fight One Tribe at a Time’: Notes Toward a History of Indigenous Political Posters

20 May 2019, 12:30 - 14:00

CRASSH Meeting Room, Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work in Progress Seminar Series.  All welcome but please email  Michelle Maciejewska to book your place and to request readings.  A sandwich lunch and refreshments are provided.

Dr Danny Widener

America remains deeply divided along racial lines. This seems poised to accelerate, rather than recede, as the United States moves toward a “majority-minority” nation in which those socially understood as “white” find themselves outnumbered for the first time since the colonial period.  In this context, traditional “race relations” models that focus on the relationship between a dominant white population and subordinated minority populations fail to capture the entire spectrum of interaction. Rather, relational and “interethnic” relations among communities of color are poised to offer a critical lens through which to examine American society.  My recent work examples the historical antecedents of this moment, tracing connections between communities of color inside the United States, exploring their spatial arrangements and cultural contours, their political possibilities and their innate contradictions.  

Drawn from a larger book-in-progress, this talk examines how indigenous activists across generations have mobilized elements of visual culture, principally political posters, as a response to a variety of struggles.  Our discussion will discuss three specific contexts. The use of political posters by North American Indian activists, from the Red Power period to the present, forms the first element of the discussion.  The link between nonwhite populations inside the United States, as expressed visually, forms the second part.  Finally, posters produced in the North American context are set alongside other global graphics of indigenous struggle, including South Asia, Palestine, Australia, South America, and the South Pacific. 

Danny Widener is a visiting fellow at CRASSH during the 2018-2019 academic year, during which time he will also be in residence at Wolfson College.  He teaches Modern American history at the University of California at San Diego with a focus on expressive culture and political radicalism. He began his educational career at the Echo Park-Silverlake Peoples’ Childcare Center before studying at Berkeley and New York University.  He is the author of Black Arts West: culture and struggle in postwar Los Angeles, and is the co-editor of two volumes, Another University is Possibleand Black California Dreamin’: the crisis of California’s African American communities.  He is currently completing a book entitled Third Worlds Within: black radicalism and interethnic relations in 20thCentury America. He is a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur.