Danielle Taschereau Mamers

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20192020 Forum on Kinship

Danielle Taschereau Mamers

Media Studies

University of Western Ontario, 2017

Danielle Taschereau Mamers works at the intersections of critical media theory, environmental humanities, and critical Indigenous studies. Her research at Penn examines the entanglement of human and nonhuman lives with settler colonial politics, through archival and contemporary documentation of bison extermination and reintroduction in the North American west. Danielle completed her PhD in Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario in 2017. Her doctoral research examined how state-generated identity documents make lives visible and invisible in settler colonial contexts. She has published in Photography & Culture, PUBLIC: Art|Culture|Ideas, Journal of Narrative Politics, and Humanimalia: Journal of Human-Animal Interface Studies. Before coming to Penn, Danielle was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Jackman Humanities Institute (2017-2019).

Plains Bison Reintroduction: Recovering Kinship in the Settler Colonial Anthropocene

The North American prairie is a place settled amongst bison bones. The near extinction of bison played a pivotal role in making possible late 19th- and early 20th-century settlement of the North American west. Forces of colonization and capital have unevenly torqued these relations between humans and bison—relations long articulated by Indigenous peoples as kinship. As a case study, bison extermination and its representation make clear how colonial policies have harmed animals, humans, and the relations between them. Mobilizing Indigenous and settler theories of kinship alongside visual research methods, this project analyzes the complex entanglement of human and nonhuman lives and for understanding what is at stake in species extermination. Exploring this trajectory, I will investigate human-bison relations through the lens of kinship, its destruction, and its recuperations in two phases. First, I will identify how human-bison kin relations appear in documents of extermination by analyzing archival photographs. Second, I will examine how bison reintroduction projects create opportunities for recuperating human-animal kinship. Attuned to the complex relationality kinship implies, I will also ask how bison reintroduction revitalizes the kin relations torqued by colonial violence and how collaborative conservation provides a path for developing settler-Indigenous relations based on kinship principles of justice, responsibility, and reciprocity.