Course Description and Objectives
Indigenous Peoples have been resisting colonialism since the time of first contact. Despite settler society’s best attempts to remove Indigenous Peoples from their homelands and eradicate their existence, they have survived more than 500 years of attempted erasure. The continued presence of Indigenous peoples and nations on Turtle Island marks both their survival and their resilience. Although settler state governments in Canada and the United States have historically sought (and continue to seek) to historicize colonialism in order to relegate it to a ‘past’ era, contemporary colonialism continues to exist—and to impact and restrict the free movement and expression of Indigenous existence. Indigenous resurgence is the revitalization of Indigenous presence beyond the limited politics of ‘bare life’ survival in resistance to colonialism; it is the renewal and re-emergence of vibrant Indigenous nations, societies, and individuals in contention with colonialism, but not defined by it.
This course will explore the intellectual, historical, and cultural foundations of Indigenous resurgence. Framed as a paradigmatic shift in the articulation of contemporary Indigenous political and cultural action and activism toward the regeneration of autonomous governance and nationhood, Indigenous resurgence is the assertion of embodied practices of decolonization in the face of continued colonialism on Turtle Island. The broad goal of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the contemporary landscape of Indigenous resurgence in thought and action. Our approach will be guided by theoretical, historical, and empirically grounded considerations and analyses. We will examine critical concepts of indigeneity, colonialism, decolonization, Indigenous resistance and resurgence by foregrounding Indigenous voices, ontologies, territories, and aesthetics, and by drawing on the work of leading Indigenous scholars and writers including Taiaiake Alfred (Mohawk), Leanne Simpson (Anishinaabe), Thomas King (Cherokee), Jeff Corntassel (Cherokee) and Glen Coulthard (Dene) in our analysis. We will begin the course by contextualizing resurgence within historical and ongoing Indigenous struggles for liberation and decolonization. Tracing the shifting arc of Indigenous resistances through their multiple iterations and strategic forms, we will discuss current struggles over land and bodies in the context of the recent Idle No More movement and other resurgent Indigenous social movements. We will conclude by analyzing the role of art, radical imagination and creativity in regenerating Indigenous presence and power, and developing strategies to realize decolonial futures and freedom on the lands we collectively call home.
Our approach is historical, conceptual, and interdisciplinary. The course format will prioritize class discussion, in combination with occasional lectures, group work, and both independent and collective research. Texts will draw from the fields of Indigenous studies, history, political theory, and cultural studies. We will feature the work of scholars who utilize Indigenous, feminist and decolonial analyses, and who foreground indigeneity, race, gender, and political economy in their research methods. We will also incorporate relevant current news into class content and multimedia texts such as film, video, and audio materials, as appropriate.
The following required books will be available at the University of Victoria Bookstore and at the Library reserve desk.
1. Alfred, Taiaiake. 2005. Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom. University of Toronto Press.
2. King, Thomas. 2013. The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. Doubleday Canada.
3. Simpson, Leanne. 2011. Dancing On Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence. ARP Books.
4. Course Blog: This will be used both by myself and students to post relevant news, links, and resources at: http://igov382.tumblr.com
Here’s the syllabus and class tumblr for the course I’ll be teaching this fall at UVIC - IGOV382: Indigenous Resurgence. Let’s roll.