Collaborating with(in) the Garden: Stewardship, Performance, and Thinking Beyond the Spatio-Temporal Formations of Institutional Legacies


  • Chris Bell University of Minnesota



What might it mean to conceptualize stewardship as a multi-species performance that contests the spatio-temporal boundaries of institutions? The proposed paper focuses on the Native American Medicine Garden (NAMG) on the University of Minnesota campus and the stewardship of Cânté Sütá (Oglala Lakota), paying specific attention to the role of plants in a distinctly Lakota-led initiative. I consider the NAMG as an undercommons, a generative site to challenge conformist settler logics governing land use (i.e., Morrill Act) and to envision not-yet thought modes of co-existence. I think from the garden to consider the relationship between stewardship and performance, arguing that the NAMG - as a pedagogical space of possibility - expands how and for whom coaltions are built. The NAMG sets the conditions for resistance by entities that likely would be identified as auxiliary or inert within settler-colonial notions of land-use, inviting non-native participants to approach the formation of plants not as an object of analysis, but as co-constituting philosophical thoughts and possibilities for existence.

Author Biography

Chris Bell, University of Minnesota

Chris Bell is a PhD candidate in theatre historiography at the University of Minnesota. His research is on contemporary and historical Indigenous performance collaborations, legacies of settlement that continue to shape academic and cultural institutions, and the pedagogical potential of gardens. He is also a community-based theatre practitioner exploring the interplay between ecology and performance, previously collaborating with Tidy Villages (Cloneen, Ireland), Unlisted: Second Steel (Pittsburgh), Lac qui Parle Historical Society (Madison, Minnesota), and Five Acres Farm (Coventry, England). His ongoing collaboration with White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) of White Earth Nation in northern Minnesota is part of a community effort to devise a community-based performance initiative and to envision what mutually beneficial fieldwork might look like.


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How to Cite

Bell, Chris. 2021. “Collaborating with(in) the Garden: Stewardship, Performance, and Thinking Beyond the Spatio-Temporal Formations of Institutional Legacies”. Performance Philosophy 6 (2):137-55.