Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Special Collections Seminar Room
“Germs, Genocides, and America’s Indigenous Peoples” a lecture by Paul Kelton in honor of Native American Heritage Month
Many Indigenous people and increasingly scholars believe that genocides occurred against the Americas’ Indigenous Peoples. Yet, a reactionary refrain cites germs as reason enough to let colonizers off the hook for committing the worst of crimes against humanity. This refrain goes like this: germs were unintentionally introduced, killed Natives independently of human agency, and produced such massive depopulation that violence proved insignificant to producing the end result—continents widowed of their original inhabitants and easily conquered by European newcomers. A growing body of scholarship, however, demonstrates that disease-induced deaths happened not as a result of germs operating on their own against passive Natives but instead as a result of the larger process of colonialism that made Natives vulnerable; one in which disease intersected with violence to escalate mortality and to curtail population recovery. The germ refrain thus should no longer stifle efforts to employ the term “genocide” in the moral vocabulary we use to the tell the full story of American history.
This event is fully booked.