Reading list

This is a reading list of works that have shaped our perspectives on scholarship, activism, and social justice. It isn’t complete; we hope it sparks conversation and further contributions. The list reflects our diverse backgrounds, what has brought us to our subjects of inquiry, and what motivates us to ask questions. Together, these list becomes a record of our learning. We invite you to join the conversation. Send us the title of a work you think should be on the list with two or three sentences about why it is important and we will add it on. 

Sara Ahmed engages extensively with the junctions between feminist thought and action on her website/platform “feministkilljoys”. In this piece, Ahmed reminds activist thinkers of the necessity to critique and engage with the structures and self-replication of the institutions within which we learn, work, and grow. Neither scholarship nor activism exist independent of context; how do our own situations impact the way we approach sensitive topics and struggles against injustice? – Will A. 

  • Alfred, Taiaiake. Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.

Alfred’s third book represents the cornerstone of his general “manifesto.” That is, that the best way for First Nations to confront colonialism is to start with the spiritual regeneration of themselves. He calls for a new political approach by First Nations in their dealing with the colonial state based on traditional values and ideas of sovereignty. As with his previous book, Alfred utilises the insights of indigenous people from all kinds of levels of engagement in Indigenous resurgence, from activists to students, in the form of abridged interviews. – Gord L. 

  • Alfred, Taiaike. Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto. Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press, 2009

In his “manifesto,” Alfred calls for First Nations people to stop running reserves and band councils in the fashion of colonial administrators. His book is about “recovering what will make self-determination real.” Alfred conducts interview with activists, elders, community members, and students, published in truncated segments, to talk about how traditional teachings can lead to a better form of self-government. – Gord L. 

  • Barker, Adam J. “Already Occupied: Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism and the Occupy Movements in North America.” Social Movement Studies, 11, 3-4 (2012), 327-334.

This article shows how large social movements can conflate issues of economic disparity with issues of colonialism. Whereas the Occupy movements were concerned with the privileges of the “one percent”, they co-opted First Nations symbology and issues while ignoring the actual concerns facing a colonized people. While Occupy protesters work to make their situation better within colonial constructs, First Nations resistance is concerned with directly confronting the colonial-state. – Gord L. 

  • Corntassel, Jeff. “Re-envisioning resurgence: Indigenous Pathways to Decolonization and Sustainable Self-Determination.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1, 1 (2012), 86-101.

Corntassel looks for “possible Indigenous pathways to decolonization and resurgence.” He writes with a sense of urgency, recognizing that “sustainable self-determination” is as much a matter of “spiritual crisis” as it is political, social and economic. To secure the political and economic security, Corntassel argues, “daily acts of renewal” are equally important. He points to Lekwungen Cheryl Bryce, from Victoria, as an example of a person who is addressing this issue head on by practicing traditional native plant use and engaging with her local community to share this knowledge. – Gord L. 

  • Coulthard, Glen Sean. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

A leading figure of the “Indigenous Intelligentsia,” Coulthard uses Karl Marx’s “primitive accumulation” and Franz Fanon’s critique of Hegel’s master/slave dialectic to demonstrate the surreptitious machinations of colonialism operating in Canada over the last century and a half. Heavy in theory, Coulthard demonstrates how identity politics sometimes serve to undermine Indigenous land claims; he provides an example with the Dene Nation’s struggle for rights since the 1970s. He also discusses residential schools and public/governmental apologies and their role in the continuation of colonialism in this country. – Gord L. 

  • Hunt, Sarah. “Ontologies of Indigeneity: The Politics of Embodying a Concept.” Cultural Geographies, 21, 1, (2014), 27-32.

Hunt writes a personal study of what it means to be Indigenous as well as a scholar working within Westernized frameworks of knowledge production. She uses “two sites of knowledge production,” a geography conference and a Kwakwaka’wakw potlatch, to illustrate the ontological differences between the two “worlds;” but at the same time, she offers experiential insights on how Indigenous scholars can find a place in both. – Gord L. 

  • Manuel, Arthur and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson. Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2015.

Former president of the National Indian Brotherhood, Art Manuel’s indictment of the settler-state in Canada has caused quite a stir in this country. For example, Vancouver Island University announced in September 2016 that its upcoming BC Studies conference will be called (Un)settling British Columbia and will use Manuel’s book as a jumping off point. The book argues that Canada has fallen short in its obligations to First Nations and it is now time for the issue of First Nations title and land rights to become an international human rights concern. – Gord L. 

  • Pasternak, S. (2015) How Capitalism Will Save Colonialism: The Privatization of Reserve Lands in Canada, Antipode, 47, pages 179–196. doi: 10.1111/anti.12094.

In regards to private titling as a property system (an assumed ideal), specifically in the context of/tension with the First Nations experience:  What does a title or deed (“legalized” private property) really do and provide?  Who does it serve? – Sonja A. 

  • Penn, Briony. “Restoring Camas and Culture to Lekwungen and Victoria: An Interview with Lekwungen Cheryl Bryce.” Focus Magazine (June 2006).

This article privileges First Nations’ knowledge while identifying ongoing issues of racism in colonial settings on the Pacific coast. Penn interviews First Nations activist Cheryl Bryce on the traditional methods of camas harvesting and confrontations she has faced from settler residents in Victoria, British Columbia. – Gord L. 

  • Simpson, Leanne. Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Pub, 2011.

Simpson’s book is deeply personal and an important contribution to Indigenous resurgence literature. Simpson demonstrates how Indigenous ontologies and story-telling are very relevant to the current political, cultural and spiritual survival of Nishnaabeg people in particular and First Nations in general. – Gord L. 

  • Snelgrove, Corey, Rita Kaur Dhamoon and Jeff Corntassel. “Unsettling Settler Colonialism: The Discourse and Politics of Settlers, and Solidarity with Indigenous Nations.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 3, 2 (2014), 1-32.

This discussion is an intriguing format for an academic paper. Three academics from different backgrounds with different perspectives on settler colonialism share their thoughts on the subject. Corntassel identifies as a “cis-gendered Tsalagi (Cherokee) man,” Dhamoon as a “cis-gendered woman of colour of Sikh origin,” and Snelgrove as a “cis-gendered white male.”  Their guiding questions are: “how did we assess the current debates/literature on settler colonialism, and how can we disrupt some of the hegemonies that inevitably arise in the theory and practice of solidarity work between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples?” – Gord L. 

As Tuck and Yang write: Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization – the repatriation of indigenous land and lifeways – is not a comfortable act, is not easily grafted on to other frameworks of social justice. This piece reminds us that “solidarity is an uneasy, reserved, and unsettled matter that neither reconciles grievances nor forecloses future conflict.” At the intersection of activism and scholarship lie responsibilities as well as possibilities – we would do well to attend to them. – Will A.

  • Twitter

Social media activism is frequently not taken seriously – relegated in public imagination to the realm of slacktivism or brand outreach. Yet, platforms like Twitter represent an important space where academia, activism, and the personal collide in productive and challenging ways. Entry points to some of the conversations within a Canadian-focused context can be found through accounts such as @apihtawikosisan, @indigenousXca, @EricaVioletLee, @HarshaWalia, @DesmondCole, and @ZoeSTodd – Will A. 

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