Join Dr. Kali Simmons as she explores how modern slasher films can both criticize and perpetuate harmful stereotypes about Indigenous people. To live under the conditions of settler-colonialism, as an Indigenous person, is to exist within a terrifying structure of dispossession and violence. And yet, American cinema has tended to imagine the opposite, rendering white settlers and the colonial state as the victims of terrifying Indigenous others seeking violent revenge. This talk examines representations of Indigenous peoples in contemporary American horror cinema, focusing on slasher films and the trope of the Indigenous killer.
Although many of these slasher films voice criticisms of colonialism and modernity, they also perpetuate harmful stereotypes about Indigenous peoples premised upon colonial hierarchies of race and gender. Alongside analysis of specific films, Dr. Simmons links these contemporary representations to early colonial texts, most significantly the captivity narrative, in order to gesture towards a genealogy of the ‘killer Indian’ trope.
Interested in how Dr. Kali Simmons summarizes the connection between horror and indigeneity? Watch this short video to help prepare for her public talk.
You can also read her newest article from GUTS magazine, We Are Our Mother’s Children.
About Kali Simmons
Dr. Kali Simmons (Oglala Lakota) is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University where she teaches courses on Indigenous representation in popular media. Her current book project, The Savage Screen: Indigeneity in the Modern American Horror Film, is an examination of Indigenous representation which also argues that many of horror’s generic conventions have troubling colonial origins. Dr. Simmons’ writing has been published in the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Science Fiction Film and Television, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and on Vulture.com.