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Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World Through Stories

Editors: Jill Doerfler, Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark, Niigonwedom James Sinclair

Describing how to understand Anishinaabeg cosmology and epistemology in his 1976 book Ojibway Heritage, Basil Johnston writes that “it is in story, fable, legend, and myth that fundamental understandings, insights, and attitudes toward life and human conduct, character, and quality in their diverse forms are embodied and passed on” (7). As scholar Gerald Vizenor remarks in a 1992 interview with Laura Coltelli: “You can’t understand the world without telling a story. There isn’t any center to the world but story” (156).

Responding to calls for tribally-centered critical approaches in American Indian Studies/Native Studies, this critical anthology focuses on Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe/Chippewa) Studies and the ways in which stories might serve as a center for the field. We invite engagement with and employment of the term “story” in its multifaceted meanings. Simply put, the essays in this book will explore and engage with the following questions:

  • Can the field called “Anishinaabeg Studies” use “story” as a center? How?
  • How can stories serve as a methodology within the field of Anishinabeg studies? What kinds of questions can be posed/answered through the use(s) of story?
  • What are the parameters of an Anishinaabeg “story” and how does it participate in ongoing Anishinaabeg knowledge production?
  • What political, ceremonial, and/or intellectual roles does “story” play in the articulation and interests of Anishinaabeg communities?
  • In the current climate of globalization, what are the roles of “story” in moderating multi-dimensional struggles for tribal sovereignty, “traditionalism,” and cultural innovation?
  • How might the knowledge embedded within stories be applied to 1) understand the complexities contained within written/oral histories 2) structure social and political institutions, and/or 3) address contemporary challenges facing Anishinaabe communities.

Essays from a wide array of disciplines (including but not limited to history, law, English, anthropology, ecology, linguistics, astronomy, and geography) are desired. Work may consist of an evaluation of practiced critical approaches in the field or exemplify a new approach through an analysis of an Anishinaabeg-authored “story.” Contributors are encouraged to examine “texts” in their culturally-specific historical, political, and subjective contexts. Besides conventional, scholarly essays, provocative work that combines Anishinaabeg storytelling and critique are also welcomed.

Due to the nature of the anthology, essays authored by Anishinaabeg are encouraged.

Abstracts must be between 500-750 words and be e-mailed by December 15, 2009. Please include a one-page curriculum vitae/bio. Once accepted, completed essays will be between 5000-7500 words in length, and contributors are asked to keep this in mind. Please e-mail all submissions to under the subject line: “Centering Anishinaabeg Studies.”

Questions may be emailed to the editors at:

Jill Doerfler
The University of Minnesota – Duluth,

Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark
The University of Minnesota Duluth,

Niigonwedom James Sinclair
The University of British Columbia,

CFP – Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World Through Stories