University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Next HGMV on Wed, Oct 28: “Memory, Affect, and Retributivism after Genocide” by Sam Grey (Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar in Sociology)

Next HGMV on Wed, Oct 28: “Memory, Affect, and Retributivism after Genocide” by Sam Grey (Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar in Sociology)

Wednesday, October 28
4:00 PM
710 Social Sciences Building, West Bank

Sam Grey:
“Memory, Affect, and Retributivism after Genocide: Resistance to Forgiveness-Reconciliation in Dakota Homeland”

According to legal philosopher Robert Solomon, “[n]o one, not even a saint, can have a sense of justice without the capacity for anger and outrage” – yet there has been little work on these retributive passions in the transitional justice canon generally, and virtually none in the work on Settler-colonial states in particular. While absent from the academic literature, those who express anger, resentment, and indignation in the context of Indigenous-Settler reconciliation projects are often portrayed in popular media as politically opportunistic, merely intransigent, or actually emotionally unwell. That problematic absence and these troubling portrayals are probed by examining resistance to reconciliation in Minnesota, where both Settler and Indigenous communities still struggle over the actual facts, correct interpretation, and proper response to the 1862 war with, and attempted genocide of, the Dakota Oyate (Dakota Nation) – a struggle that persists despite an unprecedented two formal reconciliation projects (a ‘year of reconciliation’ in 1987, one of the earliest examples of such work globally; and another state-wide undertaking in 2012). This exploration looks at persistent resistance to Indigenous-Settler reconciliation in Minnesota/Mini Sota Macoce from multiple political, moral, affective, and historical perspectives. It finds that expressions of retributivism in the context of an active, recurrent reparations politics are not adequately described by existing theoretical frameworks, nor can they be reduced to individual episodes of withholding, non-overcoming, or lack. They are, instead, assertions of alternative political virtues; and further, emblematic of a new, powerful, emotional, and strategic politics of ‘irreconciliation’ and ‘unforgiveness’ in Settler-colonial states.

Sam Grey is a Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar in the Sociology Department at the University of Minnesota and a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Victoria (BC, Canada). Working within the fields of political theory and comparative politics, she has focused her reading on non-Western political thought; Indigenous comparative politics; feminist and gender analyses; and methodological issues. Sam’s primary research interests are political virtue, the politics of emotion, Settler colonialism, and reparations politics; more specifically, her dissertation looks at anger as a political virtue, unforgiveness as a decololonization praxis, and Indigenous-Settler ‘irreconciliation’ in the contemporary Anglosphere. As an author Sam has published on human rights, gender justice, food politics, peacemaking, contractualism/contractarianism, the ontology of health, intellectual property, solidarity politics, polygyny, and applied ethics; and is the co-editor of three books on Indigenous knowledge and rights-based advocacy. As a student and researcher she has lived and worked in Southeast Asia (Northern Thailand), South America (Andean Peru), and North America (the Canadian Great Lakes and West Coast regions, as well as the American Upper Midwest).