This panel invites historiographic and ethnographic explorations of the habit of settlers to collect First Nations artefacts. By attending to these practices we suggest a critical diagnostic of the ambivalent articulations of settler nativism vis-à-vis the material fact of aboriginal inhabitation.
This panel draws together historiographic and ethnographic explorations of the peculiar habit of white settlers and their descendants to assemble and keep collections of First Nations artefacts, often through the exploration of local landscapes in order to disclose the traces of previous dwelling that reside therein. There has been considerable attention given to the assembly of institutional collections developed through professionally-sanctioned acquisition (or looting) of indigenous material heritage, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries. There has, however, been less attention paid to the motivations and activities of these "amateur" collectors and what their work reveals about the fashioning of, what Andrea L. Smith has called, "settler historical consciousness" and the ways in which settler populations relate to, and constitute, the absence/presence of indigenous peoples with their territorial imaginings, both at a national and often profoundly local level. Such imaginings, we would suggest, are indivisible from forms of material practice, including the discovery and unearthing of things belonging to First Nations peoples, and by attending to these practices we invite a critical diagnostic of the ambivalent articulations of settler nativism vis-à-vis the material fact of aboriginal inhabitation.