Roland Lincoln Kesler
Relevant Degree Programs
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (2008-2018)
For urban Tsimshian and Nisga’a youth in Prince Rupert, cell phones, cameras and Facebook are among the latest tools used to connect with families and friends across geographical distance as well as address the historical, cultural, and economic gaps created by processes of displacement. Traditional Northwest Coast First Nations’ social practices and feasts are expressed in intensely public ways; that visibility construct and maintain their social relationships and communities. Although the youth I met sometimes feel alienated from larger Canadian society as well as from village communities and feast protocols, traditional ideas of public participation embedded in social activities are sometimes successfully remediated to digital technology and Facebook for two reasons. First, public presentation and dissemination have effectively stabilized Northwest Coast First Nations’ societies across vast geographical distances for centuries. Second, the continued emphasis on public expression is part of new, creative ways the youth and families I met use mobile digital technology to create an active, somewhat de-localized, community-based support system. It is a response to colonization that creates opportunities to find and manage economic, emotional, and social support. As one result, I argue digital technology and media have become part of a succession of technological practices and tools used to create community, identity, and social stability for young people. By exploring historical practices as they relate to digital technology—some of which was introduced via photography and media production during the course of this research—I explore traditional and emergent modes of public participation that connects youth to their heritage and community, while addressing their unique needs.
Nindoodemag Bagijiganan: A History of Anishinaabeg Narrative is a project interested in how Anishinaabe narratives define Anishinaabeg culture and community. It argues that Anishinaabeg expressions are bagijiganan, offerings where unique relationships Anishinaabeg carry enact a dynamic sense of art, identity, and nationhood. Embodying an intellectual praxis called mino-bimaadiziwin (“the good life”) from the past to the present, Anishinaabeg narrative artists are defining the processes of Anishinaabeg culture. I argue that Anishinaabeg narrative bagijiganan are embedded in principles found in the Anishinaabeg Nindoodemag, the totemic system. Articulating the specific and interconnected ways circles of Anishinaabeg relationality operate, Anishinaabeg Nindoodemag is formed through two concepts, enawendiwin (strands connecting all parts of creation) and waawiyeyaag (interwoven systems of circularity). These come together to construct nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations), a law found in traditional expressions like treaties, birchbark, and beadwork and contemporary forms like poetry, paintings, and novels. Anishinaabeg narrative bagijiganan exemplify how Anishinaabeg relationships grow while continuing an inclusive sense of nationhood through the Nindoodemag. In two opening sections, “First Thought” and “First Word,” I overview Anishinaabeg Creation narratives, tracing how Anishinaabeg conceive of the universe as constituted by language and how narrative bagijiganan gesture towards mino-bimaadiziwin. In “Bezhig,” I argue that Anishinaabeg Nindoodemag is the manifestation of this process and Anishinaabeg narratives adopt one (and often more) parts of the totemic system to enact and embody this praxis of relationship making. In “Niizh,” I investigate Mikiniik (Turtle) Bagijiganan, demonstrating how narratives provoke and produce relationships forged through the mind and the imagination. In “Niswi,” I examine Maang (Loon) Bagijiganan, demonstrating how narratives produce and fortify relational strands within Anishinaabeg community. In “Niiwin,” I study Ajijaak (Sandhill Crane) and Waabajijaak (Whooping Crane) Bagijiganan to show how narratives provide opportunities for affiliation with other communities. And, in “Naanan,” I look at Makwag Bagijiganan to show how narratives demonstrate the complex ways bodies forge relationships of biology and sustainability within a material world. In the concluding section, “Oshki Nasanaamo, New Breath,” I suggest that Anishinaabeg narratives suggest a radical sense of Anishinaabeg nationhood by offering reciprocal methods invested in responsibility – a path of mino-bimaadiziwin.