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Defamiliarizing the Aboriginal

Defamiliarizing the Aboriginal: Cultural Practices and Decolonization in Canada

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Defamiliarizing the Aboriginal
    Book Description:

    InDefamiliarizing the Aboriginal, Julia V. Emberley examines the historical production of aboriginality in colonial cultural practices and its impact on the everyday lives of indigenous women, youth, and children.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8427-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction: Of Soft and Savage Bodies in the Colonial Domestic Archive
    (pp. 3-44)

    This book examines the cultural representation of ‘the family’ as an institution of colonial power in early-twentieth-century Canada. My argument is that technologies of representation, including film, photography, and print culture, disseminated images that contributed, whether knowingly or not, to the imposition of the bourgeois European and patriarchal family on indigenous societies. However, the sexual codes and racial inscriptions of the nineteenth-century European and bourgeois family structure were not simply exported to colonial space and imposed on indigenous kinship structures. Rather, the very determining power of this familial structure was constituted both through and against indigenous kinship relations. This dual...

  6. 1 An Origin Story of No Origins: Biopolitics and Race in the Geographies of the Maternal Body
    (pp. 45-69)

    In order to situate the political significance of the deployment of representational violence, it is necessary to consider the history of Canadian legislative practices that were geared towards dismantling the political kinship and economies of First Peoples. Nineteenth-century colonial policies in Canada attempted to secure colonial authority by establishing the rule of patriarchal descent in the making of an ‘aboriginal family.’ This was achieved largely by disentitling First Nations women from decision-making practices and political governance. Defined against the bourgeois ideal of the heterosexual white female body of leisure, romance, and femininity, the Aboriginal Mother emerged as a key figure...

  7. 2 The Spatial Politics of Homosocial Colonial Desire in Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North
    (pp. 70-90)

    As discussed in chapter 1, colonial policies granted indigenous men power as subjects under Canadian law in exchange for dispossessing indigenous women of decision-making powers, especially in the daily management of the household and children. In such representations as Flaherty’sNanook of the North, indigenous men are seen as potential leaders who must form the political alliances necessary with colonial men to further the political expansion of the Canadian state. The eventual exclusion of indigenous women from the network of power relations extending throughout Canada in the eighteeenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries became a necessary precondition to the expansion...

  8. 3 Originary Violence and the Spectre of the Primordial Father: A Biotextual Reassemblage
    (pp. 91-134)

    Ideologies of sexual and racial difference in the rhetoric of civilization and savagery were produced at the turn of the twentieth century by a diverse assortment of discourses ranging from the new sciences of anthropology and psychiatry to popular novels such as Robert Louis Stevenson’sThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde(1886) and the infamous Pears’ Soap advertisements. Those rare early twentieth-century texts which competed with this constellation of primitivism, sexuality, and masculinity included British government documents such as the ‘Special Report from the Select Committee on Putumayo’ (1913) and, especially, Roger Casement’s ‘Correspondence Respecting the Treatment...

  9. 4 Post/Colonial Masculinities: The Primitive Duality of ‘ma, ma, man’ in Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy
    (pp. 135-151)

    The words, ‘ma, ma, man,’ stutter across the page like one of Pat Barker’s ‘shell-shocked’ characters in herRegenerationtrilogy, a series of novels in which she explores the birth of a modern pathology, war neuroses, during the First World War. The series includesRegeneration(1991),The Eye in the Door(1993), andThe Ghost Road(1995). When the patient with war neurosis stammers or stutters, it is as if the breakdown in his capacity for speech symptomatically mimics the fragmentation of the soldiering body, blown apart and dismembered in story after story about the atrocities of warfare. In his...

  10. 5 The Family in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Aboriginality in the Photographic Archive
    (pp. 152-180)

    Like other biographical texts, the photographic family album tells a story, a narrative of familial and familiar relations, of filiations that blend and develop over time, that start off small and grow bigger and bigger with each passing day, year, and generation. The family portrait is sometimes the product of a formal event, a holiday, a staged production in the studio, an accident of time and place, and other moments that are made to stand for one’s auto-visual-biography. The images themselves are framed by the formal limits of the eye of the camera and then reframed by how they are...

  11. 6 Inuit Mother Disappeared: The Police in the Archive, 1940–1949
    (pp. 181-206)

    During the 1940s in the Eastern sector of the Northwest Territories an investigation of a French-Canadian trapper (hereafter referred to as A.) took place. The death of two of his children through separate drowning incidents and the disappearance of his Inuit wife and three-month-old son aroused the suspicion of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The investigation is contained in a series of RCMP records submitted by local subdivision police inspectors at Eskimo Point, territorial and provincial commanding officers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and the commissioner of the Criminal Investigations Branch Headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario.¹ Out of the various missives...

  12. 7 The Possibility of Justice in the Child’s Body: Rudy Wiebe and Yvonne Johnson’s Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman
    (pp. 207-233)

    InStolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman, Rudy Wiebe narrates the life of Yvonne Johnson, who until 2001 was serving a life sentence for murder in the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge for Federally Sentenced Aboriginal Women in south Saskatchewan.¹ Wiebe, a well-known Canadian fiction writer, historian, and cultural critic, reconstructs, at Johnson’s request, her life story. The result is, in part, a serious indictment of racism and the legal systems in Canada and the United States, including their policing operations. In addition to challenging juridical institutions and colonization, their book also raises important questions about the meaning of...

  13. 8 Genealogies of Difference: Revamping the Empire? or, Queering Kinship in a Transnational Decolonial Frame
    (pp. 234-259)

    ‘The family’ is simultaneously a practice, a set of knowledges, and a semiotic apparatus for the production of subjectivities and relationalities, as well as an ideological formation with all its commonsensical baggage and worn-out clichés. Its existence depends upon the seamless interaction of domestic spaces and genealogical temporalities in the production of domesticated subjects possessed of knowledges, practices, and representations with which to produce and reproduce ‘the family.’ Whenever this seamlessness is threatened, however, violence and contestation erupt. In the interdependency between postmodernity and globalization, the space of domesticity can no longer be seen as a site which harbours ‘the...

  14. Conclusion: De-signifying Kinship
    (pp. 260-264)

    The patriarchal, heterosexual, and imperial home in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was constituted by a familial politics of power over the reproductive, sexual, and infantilized bodies of women and children. This corporeo-political formation of domestic relations transpired throughout the British Empire and its colonies, infiltrating the most intimate and intersubjective experiences of everyday life and the material economies of emotional and corporeal relations among the colonial bourgeoisie and colonized indigenous societies. It is in the home and in its corporealities that colonial violence can be gauged, and not only in its earlier inscriptions as in the legislative...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 265-284)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 285-302)
  17. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 303-304)
  18. Index
    (pp. 305-319)