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Accepted Paper:

The Death of the Eagles: Governmentality and The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d)  
Sonja Dobroski (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on the U.S. BGEP Act and the legal documents of three related court cases, this paper argues that the Federal regulation of eagle hunting and procurement reproduces a settler biopolitic where the interspecies and inter-artefactual collide with questions of justice and responsibility.

Paper long abstract:

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d) prohibits the possession, killing, molestation or taking of any bald and golden eagles and their parts. Violation of the Act can result in fines and imprisonment. Native Americans from Federally recognised tribes can, under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, apply for a permit to own eagle part objects. Yet the legal outcomes of the BGEPA are rarely straightforward but are rather suffused with the potent power of the 'American Eagle' as a national symbol, with such symbolisation bleeding into systems of governance and judicial process. Exploring the web of affects of the Act through ethnographic and sociopolitical readings of three related court cases - Saenz v DOI, U.S. v Antoine, and U.S v Friday- this paper examines how U.S. settler governmentality serves to curtail and prohibit American Indian religious freedoms. When extrapolating the nuanced elements of the Act in court proceedings, governmentality can be seen to reinforce settler colonial notions of tribal citizenship and borders. Examining the legal archive alongside ethnographic material, this paper argues that the Federal regulation of eagle hunting, possession, and procurement can reproduce a settler biopolitic where the interspecies and inter-artefactual collide with questions of justice and responsibility. While the archive provides substantive data to suggest a heightened level of legal surveillance this paper considers the theoretical, methodological, and ethical challenges of using settler colonial theory to analyse legal texts where complex considerations for Indigenous sovereignty come to the fore.

Panel Evid02b
Doing justice justice? Methodological and theoretical challenges in the anthropological study of legal historical archives II
  Session 1 Thursday 1 April, 2021, -