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Violent Homemaking: The Indian Model Cottage, Gendered Philanthropy, and Tutelary Settler Colonialism

Thursday Lecture Series

dateFebruary 15, 2024 timeThursday, 12:15pm–2:00pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University locationVirtual Event
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
old photo of a house

The Society of Fellows hosts the Thursday Lecture Series (TLS), which runs regularly throughout the academic year. For the Fall Semester TLS, our Fellows present their own work chaired by Columbia faculty. This special Spring Semester TLS is an extension of those talks.

Violent Homemaking: The Indian Model Cottage, Gendered Philanthropy, and Tutelary Settler Colonialism

Lecture by Maura Lucking
Chaired by Zeynep Çelik Alexander

This talk takes up the aesthetics and politics of domestic space in relation to nineteenth-century US federal Indian policy. It examines a seemingly minor self-help homebuilding and home loan project for students and graduates of Indian boarding schools funded by the Women’s National Indian Association (WNIA), a ladies’ aid society that became an important state proxy for social programs for Native peoples. Administrators used the project to argue for the success of individual land tenure as an assimilative tool in congressional deliberations over the Dawes Act (1887), which resulted in ninety million acres of Indigenous land loss through its redistribution policies. The WNIA instrumentalized both the authority of rational-legal state bureaucracy and the aesthetics of homebuilding, homemaking, and even home financing as feminized forms of care to wrest power for themselves within patriarchal government systems while buttressing the gendered and racial hierarchies of White supremacy. For participants, homebuilding presented opportunities for exercising rights typically denied them without citizenship status, even while they often rejected attempts to control their financial and social activities. With its origins in the physical violence of the boarding school and its outcomes in the symbolic violence of dispossession, this talk argues the model cottage made material new forms of tutelary governance that would characterize US imperial projects in self-help housing and school building over the following century.

This event also will be recorded. By being electronically present, you consent to the SOF/Heyman using such video for promotional purposes.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.