Mnidoo-Worlding: Merleau-Ponty and Anishinaabe Philosophical Translations
Author(s)Manning, Dolleen Tisawii'ashii
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AbstractThis dissertation develops a concept of mnidoo-worlding, whereby consciousness emerges as a kind of possession by what is outside of ‘self’ and simultaneously by what is internal as self-possession. Weaving together phenomenology, post structural philosophy and Ojibwe Anishinaabe orally transmitted knowledges, I examine Ojibwe Anishinaabe mnidoo, or ‘other than human,’ ontologies. Mnidoo refers to energy, potency or processes that suffuse all of existence and includes humans, animals, plants, inanimate ‘objects’ and invisible and intangible forces (i.e. Thunder Beings). Such Anishinaabe philosophies engage with what I articulate as all-encompassing and interpenetrating mnidoo co-responsiveness. The result is a resistance to cooption that concedes to the heterogeneity of being. I define this murmuration, that is, this concurrent gathering of divergent and fluctuating actuation/signals as mnidoo-worlding. Mnidoo-worlding entails a possession by one’s surroundings that subsumes and conditions the possibility of agency as entwined and plural co-presence. The introductory chapter defines the terms of mnidoo philosophy, and my particular translations of it. The chapter further disentangles mnidoo-philosophy from the ways it has been appropriated, and misinterpreted by western interlocuters. It also situates the mnidoo ontology I am developing in broader conversations in phenomenology about the relational world. Chapter Two explores the complex implications of conducting Anishinaabe philosophy in colonial languages and institutions, framed in the context of settler colonialism and discourses of reconciliation and indigenizing the academy. In Chapter Three I engage with the ‘Indigenous Renaissance’ in Indigenous arts and scholarship, outlining epistemological-pedagogical methods including oral traditions, embodied knowing, land-based pedagogy and non-interference pedagogy. The fourth chapter forwards a critique of liberal humanism and posthumanism through an interrogation of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept “becoming-animal.” The final, culminating chapter brings Anishinaabe ontologies, tacitly found embedded in our everydayness, together with Indigenous ways of being attuned to what is there in the world. In dialogue with Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology I take up Anishinaabe mnidoo philosophies to consider everyday phenomena from the collective movement of birds, to intuition and dreams. These are profoundly imbued in these philosophically-lived practices as embodied ciphers—languages and knowledge hidden in our “encrustation” with the world—subtly revealed as a simultaneous presence and elsewhere paradox.