Relevant Degree Programs
Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2021)
This project considers the possibility of a relational turn in Indigenous studies, and Indigenous literary studies specifically, toward the study and practice of everyday kinship. This turn does not propose the complete abdication of larger, macro-political projects, but rather suggests we need to be attentive to both macro- and micropolitical projects in tandem, while simultaneously outlining how the micropolitical as a site of analysis in Indigenous communities often receives little sustained interest or engagement from wider academic circles (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous), in comparison to large-scale Indigenous cultural and political issues. Scholars studying forms of Indigenous cultural production (or settler cultural production about/addressing Indigenous peoples) and Indigenous communities have yet to substantively consider how a focus on everyday life and kinship can help outline, navigate, and denaturalize the colonial dimensions and parameters of what is currently called Canada. This dissertation takes Treaty Eight as its immediate intellectual, spatial, and ecological context, and examines three sites of analysis: a small-town archive that makes settler colonial claims to space and in the process erases Indigenous histories; a hazardous waste treatment centre that eradicates Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world, and in the process damages relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, as well as with other-than-human beings; and the creative and critical writing of Treaty Eight poet Billy-Ray Belcourt, whose poetry outlines the harmful effects of imposed masculinities and the gender binary, and gestures to modes of existing otherwise. Each of these sites contain intimate relationships and complex lived realities that are rarely given sustained attention in Indigenous studies, even as they are arguably the fabric of everyday lives within the shared geography of Treaty Eight territory. Thus, I maintain that a rigorous engagement with the shared geographies we inhabit, as well as the enmeshed and entangled ways we relate to one another other, is not only necessary, but vital if we are going to address not only the intimate, everyday symptoms of colonial injustice, but also the root causes of harm reproduced and maintained by settler colonialism.
The current field of Indigenous literary studies remains overwhelmingly focused on individual authors and their use of traditionally Eurowestern literary genres. While analyzing these individuals’ novels, poetry, essays, and other traditionally single-author literary genres, however, scholars often overlook these same individuals’ participation in the collectivist national and co-national writings of their contemporaneous Indigenous nations and networks. This dissertation argues for the need to (re)center collectivist texts within Indigenous literary studies and highlights the fluid Indigenous literary networks of North America and the Pacific at the turn of the twentieth century. By juxtaposing the constitutions, petitions, and newspapers of the Hui Aloha ‘Āina (Hawaiian Patriotic League), the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Sisterhood, and the National Council of American Indians, I trace the hemispheric and trans-Pacific history of collectivist literary genres in order to provide an innovative Indigenous literary history of genre. I argue that when Indigenous peoples write as a collective body, their writings participate within longstanding Indigenous literary traditions—from the Hodinöhsö:ni’ Great Law (ca. 1090–1500) to the Constitution of the White Earth Nation (2009)—that continue to be overlooked in favor of “orature” and contemporary fiction composed by individual authors. By (re)centering collectivism within the study of Indigenous literatures, this dissertation also introduces the theoretical framework of co-nationalism, the process and potential of Indigenous nations working together while maintaining local distinctions and commitments, in order to attest to the ongoing survival of Indigenous literary communities and coalitions, maintain Indigenous lands as central to Indigenous literatures, and disrupt the definitions of literature that continue to marginalize literary expressions of Indigenous solidarity.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
This thesis examines the short story collections and auto/biographical, self-reflexive works of Lee Maracle (Stó:lō) and Beth Brant (Mohawk), arguing that the multi-generic nature of both writers’ work constitutes it as Indigenous feminist theory. Although Indigenous women’s writing continues to be marginalized in (white) academic contexts, their writing is not necessarily undertheorized in their own literary communities—indeed, this thesis understands Indigenous women’s writing as inherently theoretical because it analyzes the interdependent systems of racist and sexist oppression brought to bear on Indigenous women. Put differently, Indigenous women writing about their lived experiences constitutes theory. Both Maracle and Brant intervene in form and content as a refusal to be fixed by the heteropatriarchal, colonial gaze. On a formal level, Maracle draws on her conceptualization of “oratory,” a Stó:lō methodology for holistically engaging with written texts, to create hybrid, multi-generic written forms. Brant, on the other hand, writes across genres as a gesture of inclusivity to the multiple, marginalized communities she writes to and for; even more, her multi-generic writing mimics her intersectional Indigenous feminist praxis. On the level of content, both writers demonstrate that a firm division between their writing and their political concerns does not exist: Maracle’s writing on violence against Indigenous women, other-than-human beings, and the earth coincide with her political advocacy off the page, and the centrality of queer Indigenous and Two Spirit characters and desire in Brant’s writing speaks to its political necessity in larger heteronormative contexts. Reading these two authors alongside each other thus enables a fuller conceptualization of the theoretical power of Indigenous feminist writing as a decolonial methodology.
This thesis explores ways in which Afrofuturist and Indigenous Futurist works complicate and trouble what constitutes Indigeneity in the Americas and specifically how that Indigeneity is posed in relation to Blackness and the Black diaspora. Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber and Zainab Amadahy’s The Moons of Palmares are two texts that represent Blackness and Indigeneity in outer space settings creatively constructed from earthly histories of settler colonialism and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. By demonstrating the complex ways in which these violent processes have created the material, social and political reality of the Americas, both texts represent peoples’ attempts to create belonging far from their ancestral lands and/or in tension with other peoples. I pose sovereignty and labour as two of the modalities through which these attempts at belonging are made, noting the limitations of both these discourses and how they have been mobilized. Overall, this thesis contributes to a discussion between and across the disciplines of Black and Indigenous studies in order to better understand global systems of oppression and imagine future space-times free from the constricting categorizations imposed under settler colonialism and slavery.