Faculty of Native Studies
University of Alberta
In August 2015 I moved to the University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies where I am an Associate Professor. I came to the University of Alberta to work with one of the strongest groups of Indigenous Studies scholars anywhere in the world. There are 1100 Aboriginal students at the university and many Native faculty and staff in multiple faculties on campus. In 2016, the Government of Canada awarded me a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience, and Environment. “Chairholders aim to achieve research excellence in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences. They improve our depth of knowledge and quality of life, strengthen Canada’s international competitiveness, and help train the next generation of highly skilled people through student supervision, teaching, and the coordination of other researchers’ work.”  I am excited to build a research and training program at the University of Alberta that is focused on indigenous peoples’ engagements with science and technology as those fields and projects serve Indigenous self-determination.
I am an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota. I am also descended from the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. I was raised on the Flandreau Santee Sioux reservation in South Dakota and in St. Paul, Minnesota by my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I originally trained to become a community and environmental planner at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). From 1992-2001 I worked on various planning projects for national tribal organizations, tribal governments, federal agencies and in private consulting. I worked primarily on projects having to do with tribal government interests in nuclear waste management and on a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded project to explore the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI,) for indigenous peoples of human genetic research. Realizing that my deeper intellectual interests were in the cultures and politics of science and technology and their implications for tribes and other indigenous peoples, I returned to graduate school. I completed in 2005 a Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz in History of Consciousness. Working with Professors James Clifford and Donna Haraway, I wrote a dissertation exploring the concept of “Native American DNA” as an object of human population genetics research and as a focus of the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) genetic ancestry testing industry. I taught for 18 months at Arizona State University in Tempe in the Department of American Indian Studies before spending one year as a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in both Gender & Women’s Studies and in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM) at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2008 I was hired as Assistant Professor of Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy in the ESPM Division of Society & Environment. During the 2012-13 academic year, I was a Donald D. Harrington Fellow in Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin. In 2013 I accepted a position as Associate Professor of Anthropology and Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) at Texas.
I study the ways in which genetic science is co-constituted with notions of race and indigeneity and I have a just published book on the subject, Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science. More broadly, I am interested in the historical and ongoing roles of science and technology (technoscience) in the colonization of indigenous peoples and others. Yet because tribes and other indigenous peoples insist on their status as sovereigns, I am also interested in the increasing role of technoscience in indigenous governance. How do U.S. tribes and others resist, regulate, collaborate in, and initiate research and technology development in ways that support self-governance and cultural sovereignty? What are the challenges for indigenous peoples related to science and technology, and what types of innovative work and thinking occur at the interface of technoscience and indigenous governance? Finally, how will indigenous governance of and through research and technology development affect the priorities, practices, and values of technoscientific fields? I bring into my research, collaborations, and teaching indigenous, postcolonial, and feminist science studies analyses that enable not only critique but generative thinking about the possibilities for democratizing science and technology.
In 2013, I finished a 3-year term (2010-2013) as an elected member of the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). I am also an elected officer of the Society for Cultural Anthropology and a member of the Executive Program Committee (EPC) for the 2016 American Anthropological Association (AAA) annual meeting. I am a founding member of the Advisory Board for the University of Illinois’ Institute for Genomic Biology Summer Internship for Native Americans in Genomics (SING); and an Editorial Board member for the U.K.-based journal Science as Culture. I recently joined the SACNAS News Editorial Advisory Board, published by the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. I have also advised the President of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) on issues related to genomics and indigenous peoples.
Oak Lake Writers 2015
As for knowledge production outside the academy, I am a member of the Oak Lake Writers, a group of Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota (Oceti Sakowin) writers. I am also Content Editor of our Web page: www.oaklakewriters.org. We meet annually at the Oak Lake Field Station in southeastern South Dakota. Our works include This Stretch of the River (2006), a collection of memoirs, historical and critical essays, and poems. The volume documents Oceti Sakowin relationships with Mnisose (the Missouri River) and other rivers in our historic homelands, especially in the wake of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition. Our collection, He Sapa Woihanble (Black Hills Dream), was released in August 2011 by Living Justice Press (St. Paul, MN). This volume documents Oceti Sakowin peoples’ ongoing relationships with He Sapa or the Black Hills.
I write mostly within the confines of the academic social sciences and humanities, but my time with the Oak Lake Writers has prompted two important developments in my work. I developed a conversational method of knowledge production, the “dialogue,” that served as the basis for a multi-authored piece in This Stretch of the River. The method looped back to inform my social science work as I seek to build knowledge collaboratively with community members, scientists, and others that I might study. The Oak Lake Writers have also inspired me to take up in creative prose format my favorite academic topic, technoscientific cultural politics. That piece, Posts from en Route, is published in the Black Hills volume.
Ph.D., History of Consciousness
University of California at Santa Cruz
MCP (Environmental Policy & Planning)
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
B.A. in Community Planning
University of Massachusetts at Boston
Faculty of Native Studies
University of Alberta
Department of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM)
Division of Society and Environment
University of California, Berkeley
School of Political Science and Economics
Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan
University of Texas, Austin
University of California, Berkeley
Arizona State University, Tempe
Kim TallBear is Associate Professor, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta, and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience & Environment. She is building a research hub in Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society. Follow them at www.IndigenousSTS.com and @indigenous_sts. TallBear is author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). Her Indigenous STS work recently turned to also address decolonial and Indigenous sexualities. She founded a University of Alberta arts-based research lab and co-produces the sexy storytelling show, Tipi Confessions, sparked by the popular Austin, Texas show, Bedpost Confessions. Building on lessons learned with geneticists about how race categories get settled, TallBear is working on a book that interrogates settler-colonial commitments to settlement in place, within disciplines, and within monogamous, state-sanctioned marriage. She is a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota. She tweets @KimTallBear and @CriticalPoly.