Alice Te Punga Somerville


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Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Imagining futures through graphic storytelling: a Qazaq dystopia in Orda and an Indigenous utopia in kitaskinaw 2350 (2024)

Imagining and visualizing futures through graphic storytelling, Indigenous comics writers and illustrators create alternative possibilities that inherently reject colonial narratives that do not envision Indigenous cultures surviving into the future. Deliberately centering Indigenous Peoples in the story in various ways, they represent utopian and dystopian scenarios that serve as not the destruction of Indigenous worlds but instead catalysts of decolonization. This thesis analyzes the futures imagined in a Qazaq comic series, Orda, written by Orazkhan Jakup and featuring different illustrators for each issue, and an Indigenous comic from Canada, kitaskinaw 2350, written by a Métis writer Chelsea Vowel, illustrated by a Wolastoqiyik artist Tara Audibert, and coloured by Donovan Yaciuk. Engaging the dynamic critical conversations about Indigenous Futurism and comics as a form, I draw on Chadwick Allen’s trans-Indigenous reading methodology and his arguments about “legitimiz[ing] our expanding archive for inclusion within formal scholarship.” I propose inviting Qazaq texts into a dialogue with diverse works to argue for the possibility of a productive conversation between the works of Indigenous artists from Central Asia and North America. This thesis positions the two comics in the contexts of Qazaqstan and Canada and engages close readings of the central texts to analyze the ways Orda creates a Qazaq dystopia and kitaskinaw 2350 creates an Indigenous utopia. I argue that even though the texts are from vastly different settings, and present seemingly opposing strategies for imagining Indigenous futures, Orda and kitaskinaw 2350 both challenge conventional colonial views about the central themes of many futurist writings such as language, apocalypse, progress, and time. Ultimately, these analyses suggest that Allen’s proposition is not only possible but also effective in expanding the conversation to Central Asian cultures and the discussion of graphic storytelling forms that often center children and young adult readers.

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