Kimberly Takahata is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Villanova University. She researches and writes about Anglophone colonies of the long eighteenth-century with a focus on settler colonialism and Indigenous life. Dr. Takahata has written on colonial poetic form and natural history and serves as a co-editor of Digital Grainger, a teaching edition of James Grainger’s 1764 georgic The Sugar-Cane. Her current work examines settler descriptions of Indigenous remains as sites of attempted colonial control and practices of ongoing Indigenous care. She received her PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in 2020.
Wolf Humanities Center Regional Fellow
2022—2023 Forum on Heritage
Assistant Professor, English, Villanova University
Skeletal Testimony: Repatriating Narratives in the Early Atlantic
“Skeletal Testimony: Repatriating Narratives in the Early Atlantic” argues that like physical exhibits of stolen Indigenous remains, narrative representations of these bodies are another “crypt” comprising an integral strategy of settler colonialism in thelong eighteenth century. Analyzing Anglophone Atlantic World accounts, I contend that colonial writers used formalized conventions of narrative observation to figure Indigenous remains as interchangeable, collectible bones and establish a self-referentialarchive of violence and removal. Through what I call “skeletal testimony,” I identify the tension between these depictions and the care that the living undertook to physically preserve these remains. Tracing the resulting formal ruptures in these accounts, I reframe such texts as reliant on Indigenous knowledge and relations, using “skeletal” as a structural methodology to navigating settler colonial texts.