The Murmuration of Birds: An Anishinaabe Ontology of Mnidoo-Worlding

September 30, 2020

Canada

Speaker(s):

Dr. Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning

Discussant(s):

Sebastian De Line

What does a bird actually see when it is part of a large flock? During these times of radical uncertainty, continuing threats of colonialism, capitalism and climate genocide, Dr. Dolleen Manning discusses what can we learn from wading into subtle mnidoo regions to collaboratively imagine new futures and formations.

Talk Description:

In a murmuration, a flock of starlings interweave intricate, cascading flight patterns around land, wind, and other flock formations, without ever colliding. In her chapter The Murmuration of Birds: An Anishinaabe Ontology of Mnidoo-Worlding (in Feminist Phenomenology Futures, ed. Helen A. Fielding and Dorothea E. Olkowski), Dr. Manning defines this murmuration - that is, this concurrent gathering of fluctuating and divergent inflections - as mnidoo-worlding. Manning’s mother and formative teacher, Rose Manning Mshkode-bzhikiikwe baa, a first-language Ojibwe speaker, describes this as a kind of attentiveness towards what approaches from a distance or what is apprehended from the corner of one's eye.


In our upcoming talk, Dr. Manning will elaborate on Ojibwe Anishinaabe ontology through what she terms mnidoo-worlding, which takes as its starting point the presumption of a life-world populated by human and other-than-human persons, "entities/bodies'' or, rather, potencies. By identifying consciousness as external to a bounded human subject, and at the same time as internal in terms of immanence (radiating from within as well as from "without"), Dr. Manning carries Merleau-Ponty into the ahuman mnidoo structure that he seems to strive for but cannot reach. In her chapter, she writes, “I am part of this tumultuous unified body. As such, I am both finite and infinite: singular, discontinuous, mortal. I am also continuous, immortal, and infinitely divisible. I transpire along two ways of being - finitude and infinitude”. One's ownmost (mnidoo-self) likewise stands out as a flickering glint against the backdrop of the other. We will discuss this fusion that is always already there, and the ways in which this infinite mnidoo consciousness conditions finitude, not merely as a "life-sustaining" interpenetration. Dr. Manning contends that Anishinaabe philosophies and ontologies strive for interrelational accord amid brutal contemporary forces that compose the complex lived Indigenous realities.

Biography:

Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning (PhD) is a member of Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation and is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar. She is a Queen's National Scholar in Anishinaabe Language, Knowledge and Culture (ALKC), Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Cultural Studies at Queen's University. Manning has wide-ranging interests in Anishinaabe ontology, critical theory, phenomenology, and art, investigating questions of imaging practices, epistemological sovereignty, and the debilitating impact of settler colonial logics. Manning points to her early childhood grounding in her mother’s Anishinaabe cultural lessons as her primary philosophical influence and source of creativity.


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