Environmental Humanities Colloquium: “‘Gaia Likes It Cold’: Tanya Tagaq Sounds Inuit Sovereignty in Canada’s North”

January 16, 2019 - 4:30pm

Location and Address

Pitt Humanities Center, 602 Cathedral of Learning

Reading available here


Please join us for the next meeting of the Environmental Humanities Research Seminar, sponsored by the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh and the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research at Carnegie Mellon University. Special thanks to the Sociology Department at Pitt and the World History Center at Pitt for additional support for this meeting.

Wednesday, January 16 at 4:30pm:

Alexa Woloshyn, Assistant Professor of Musicology at CMU, will give a very short presentation, "‘Gaia Likes It Cold’: Tanya Tagaq Sounds Inuit Sovereignty in Canada’s North”'
Caitlin Schroering, Doctoral Student in the Department of Sociology at Pitt, will respond.
After that, discussion is open to the whole group.

We'll meet at 4:30pm in 602 Cathedral of Learning, the Humanities Center at Pitt

Abstract: Indigenous artists are frequently placed within the too-tidy binary of traditional vs. modern. Indigenous culture is considered frozen and, thus, incompatible with modernity. This article examines the Inuk avant-garde vocalist Tanya Tagaq (b. 1975), whose creative and communicate outputs demonstrate a larger political project of undermining mainstream representational practices regarding Indigenous identity (particularly in Canada) and presenting Indigenous-centered sounds and perspectives. While Tagaq has constructed an artistic identity that challenges the simple binaries of past/present and traditional/modern, mainstream media often relies on representational practices straight from the Settler colonialist playbook. This article illustrates how she makes her agency clear in both her artistic out- put and in her social media activity on Twitter. I examine media coverage of Indigenous artists and Tagaq in particular and then dismantle the self/other and modern/traditional binaries with reference to her two latest albums—_Animism_ and _Retribution_— and two Twitter “wars” in which Tagaq’s celebrity status incites both reactive and active critique of Indigenous—and specifically Inuit—representation in Canada. She, in turn, presents her own narrative as a deliberate strategy of cultural and political self-determination. 


with Alexa Woloshyn (CMU, Music) and a response from Caitlin Schroering (Doctoral Student in Sociology)