Animations of Indigenous Law in Louise Erdrich’s "LaRose"

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 13:00to14:30
Chancellor Day Hall Stephen Scott Seminar Room (OCDH 16), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

Join us for an Annie MacDonald Langstaff workshop with Professor Beth Piatote, UC Berkeley. Tomlinson Visiting Professor John Borrows and Boulton Fellow Kerry Sloan will provide commentary.


In her talk, Professor Piatote will consider Louise Erdrich’s LaRose, the second in a trilogy of novels that, as they unfold, all show the failures of law, whether indigenous or settler-colonial, to provide satisfaction, or what we may consider “justice” in the face of loss. Given the failures of “justice,” the question arises whether the “pursuit of justice” is a reasonable purpose of law at all. The question of how to go on living in the face of loss becomes the central theme of LaRose, and offers an alternative vision of the function of law through the animation of older Ojibwe practices of law. Drawing upon history and indigenous concepts of law as the base of analysis, this paper explores the novel’s vision of survival in the face of loss, the reverberations of colonial violence in the present, the particular burdens borne by women, and the difficult task of carrying out indigenous principles of law.

About the speaker

Beth Piatote is Associate Professor at UC Berkeley, with research interests in Native American literature, history, law and culture, American literature and cultural studies, and Ni:mi:pu: (Nez Perce) language and literature.

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