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Howard Harrod Lecture

Vanderbilt University Divinity School announces the 2019 Harrod Lecture

to be delivered by

Marcus Briggs-Cloud

Marcus Briggs-Cloud
Doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary Ecology
University of Florida
Director of Ekvn-Yefolecv Indigenous Maskoke Ecovillage

Thursday, November 7, 2019
7:00 P.M.
Vanderbilt Divinity School, The Space

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Ugh! Maskoke People and Our Pervasive Anti-Black Racism...Let the Language Teach Us

Engaging critical analysis of Maskoke language in its precolonial context reveals how one cannot articulate ownership over another species. Linguistic imperialism however, is one ideologically transformative settler-colonial mechanism whereby the traditional Maskoke inability to conceptualize ownership over human bodies gets inverted, allowing for the adoption of both institutionalized servitude and importation of structural racism into Maskoke society. This talk argues such anti-black language and subjugation of blackness infiltrated Maskoke People through bilingual and monolingual English-speaking Maskoke persons. Moreover, blackness is an integral agential energy in traditional Medicinal practices; therefore disparagement of blackness in its human and corresponding cosmological form leads to a weakened medicinal efficacy. Maskoke People are not exempt from anti-black racist sentiments in Maskoke language, nor from the behaviors that internalizing such racist idioms can provoke. There are however, healthy ways of talking about blackness in the Maskoke language. Briggs-Cloud presents some model examples that contemporary Maskoke language speakers and traditional practitioners can mirror.

About the Harrod Lecturer

Marcus Briggs-Cloud (Maskoke) is a language revitalization practitioner, musician and scholar. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Marcus is the author of several peer reviewed academic articles intersecting liberation theology, linguistics, ecology, race and gender identity. He is currently a doctoral candidate in interdisciplinary ecology at the University of Florida and is the director of Ekvn-Yefolecv Indigenous Maskoke Ecovillage centered in Weogufka, Alabama. His album Pum Vculvke Vrekkuecetv (To Honor Our Elders) was nominated for two Native American Music Awards, and in 2012 he served as the composer and choir director for the Vatican canonization liturgy with Pope Benedict XVI for Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. Marcus is partnered to Tawna Little, a Kvlice Maskoke person from the Skunk Clan and they have two children Nokos-Afvnoke and Hemokke, with whom Marcus enjoys speaking exclusively in the Maskoke language.


About the Harrod Lecture

The Howard L. Harrod Lecture was established to honor Harrod, the Oberlin Alumni Professor of Social Ethics and Sociology of Religion, who taught for more than 30 years at Vanderbilt. Harrod worked extensively in environmental ethics and activism and was an advocate for new ways of understanding the relationships of humans with the animal and natural worlds. Past Harrod Lectures have been delivered by Catherine Keller, Ray Suarez, David Loy, Tom Dillehay, Mark D. Jordan, and Norman K. Gottwald, Melissa Snarr, and Dennis Dickerson.