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Countering Colonial Control: Imagining Environmental Justice and Reconciliation in Indigenous and Canadian Writer-Activism

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dc.contributor.advisor Ferguson, Jade Follett, Alec 2020-05-04T16:46:14Z 2020-05-04T16:46:14Z 2020-04 2020-04-28 2020-05-04
dc.description.abstract This dissertation considers the role of Indigenous knowledge in Joseph Boyden’s, Thomas King’s, and Rita Wong’s counter-discourse to the colonial control over Indigenous peoples’ land relations. Boyden, King, and Wong are part of a long history of Canadian and Indigenous writer-activists who have turned to literature to comment on the intertwined social and ecological violences caused by mapping colonial and capitalist relations onto Indigenous land; however, I argue that Boyden’s, King’s, and Wong’s early-twenty-first century writing has been constructed in relation to the notion of reconciliation. As such, their writing not only demonstrates that the recovery and enactment of Indigenous knowledge without interference from state, corporate, or settler actors is a precondition for environmental and epistemological justice, but also that justice requires the participation of non-Indigenous peoples who are willing to partake in non-colonial acts of relation building. In addition, I also address each writer-activist’s extra literary efforts—some of which have proved contentious. I argue that studying the strategies and challenges associated with their cultural work is necessary to develop a critical understanding of the complicated and influential figure of the writer-activist. I conduct my analysis, as a white-settler scholar, by turning to environmental justice scholarship, which provides a framework for connecting social and environmental issues, as well as for understanding the function of self-positioning and marginalized knowledges in the justice and research processes. In chapter one, I consider how Thomas King (Cherokee) offers an intercultural alternative to resource extraction projects that are grounded in Indigenous cultural stories. In chapter two, I read self-proclaimed Indigenous author Joseph Boyden’s Mushkegowuk novels (after his fall from stardom) for the way food functions as an accessible but limited means of making legible alternatives to colonial institutions that have controlled Indigenous land relations. In chapter three, I engage with Rita Wong’s self-reflexive activism and poetry, in which Wong places knowledge systems in conversation to generate sustainable and equitable intercultural relations with water. In doing so, this dissertation contributes to the study of Canadian environmental literature, which has yet to adequately consider the relationship between activist literature, reconciliation, and environmental injustices affecting Indigenous peoples.  en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program, the University of Guelph's College of Arts and School of English and Theatre Studies. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Canadian literature en_US
dc.subject Indigenous literature en_US
dc.subject ecocriticism en_US
dc.subject environmental humanities en_US
dc.subject settler colonialism en_US
dc.subject reconciliation en_US
dc.subject writer-activism en_US
dc.subject environmental justice en_US
dc.subject Joseph Boyden en_US
dc.subject Thomas King en_US
dc.subject Rita Wong en_US
dc.title Countering Colonial Control: Imagining Environmental Justice and Reconciliation in Indigenous and Canadian Writer-Activism en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Literary Studies / Theatre Studies in English en_US Doctor of Philosophy en_US School of English and Theatre Studies en_US
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