Reflecting on Our Unlearning Hour: Mask Dialogues

Poster with mask and text for dates and times

During the Fall of 2022, Our Unlearning Hour (OUH), a project within K’acha Willaykuna, has aligned with Dancing with Devils to host weekly Mask DialoguesOUH offers an informal weekly dialogic space open to everyone at OSU (including faculty, instructors, students and staff), as well as anyone within our community, even if unaffiliated with OSU. During the Fall 2022 semester, the Mask Dialogues gather participants to reflect and share experiences and understanding of the pivotal position of masks within global Indigenous arts and cultures, as well as tools for settler colonial and non-Indigenous accomplice-building, through engaging embodied exercises of “unlearning” grounded in decolonial approaches, interdisciplinary methodologies, and Indigenous meaning-making practices on a global scale.

OUH started back in Fall 2019, as a reading group under the name This Decoloniality, meeting in the Fine Arts Library & reading Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang’s ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor’, Walter Mignolo & Catherine Walsh’s book On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxisas well as reflections on the New Red Order film CULTURE CAPTURE: TERMINAL ADDITION, then showing in The Box at the Wex.

The following semester, Spring 2020, Our Unlearning Hour emerged, this time gathering at the Heirloom Cafe & out of which came 6 issues of a newsletter based on our discussions.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit & we transitioned to Our Distance Unlearning Hour, meeting on Zoom from Fall 2020 to Spring 2022 (many of these sessions were recorded & can be watched here on our K’acha Willaykuna YouTube channel), with the first year focused on a collaboration with workshops by the Pachaysana Institute in Fall 2020 & Spring 2021.

In Fall 2021, we read & processed together our two K’acha Willaykuna commissions: the Cassandra Press Reader on Blackness, Indigeneity & Erasure (edited by Kandis Williams & Aline Baiana) & the report on the impact of COVID-19 on the Guarani community of the Jaguapiru Reservation in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil.

Then, for Spring 2022 we had a ‘seed takeover’, as part of Cadine Navarro’s exhibition It Sounds Like Love at Otterbein University’s Frank Gallery.

Across all of these various manifestations, Our Unlearning Hour has been meeting weekly as an informal discussion space to reflect together on two central questions: What does centering global Indigenous arts & humanities look like at a settler colonial land-grab university? What methods can we, non-Indigenous accomplices in dialogue with Indigenous scholars, artists & activists, share to enable a concrete decolonial praxis of unlearning? 

Now, another question remains: what does the future hold for Our Unlearning Hour?

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