We are delighted to announce the latest English Research Seminar, taking place in person on Wednesday 7 December between 2:30 and 4:30 on the University of Salford campus. Unfortunately Caroline Magennis will now not appear due to illness.
If you wish to attend as a member of the public, please contact Scott Thurston on S.Thurston@salford.ac.uk. The seminar is also available to online participants.
Abstract and bio of our speaker
Emma Barnes: Mother Earth and Motherhood: Indigenous Mothering as Survivance in Tekahionwake’s Periodical Writings
Abstract: In his foundational text, Manifest Manners, Gerald Vizenor offers a portmanteau, ‘survivance’, to underpins the ways Indigenous peoples simultaneously ‘survive and resist’ settler-colonial systems. As Indigenous women’s stories, memoirs, and blood memories attest to, however, I argue that Indigenous women enact a uniquely feminine form of survivance. This is due to the fact that settler-colonial systems are inherently heteropatriarchal, and thus work to oppress Indigenous women in terms of both race and gender. Settler-colonial and gender-based violence is most visible in the ways that the Canadian government have historically attacked Indigenous women in their role as mothers by violating reproductive rights, subjecting Indigenous women to non-consensual hysterectomies, and forcibly removing Indigenous children into Residential Boarding Schools and non-Indigenous foster families. As Kim Anderson and D. Meemee Lavell-Harvard argue, Indigenous mothers work to ‘challenge, subvert, deconstruct, and eventually break free from the oppressive structures of the racist, sexist, patriarchal society in which we find ourselves’ (2014, p.2). By bringing the work of Anderson and Lavell-Harvard (2014), Kim Anderson (2016), and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (2016; 2017) into dialogue with short stories by First Nation Haudenosaunee writer, Tekahionwake (E. Pauline Johnson); “Catharine of the Crow’s Nest”, “The Legend of Lillooet Falls” and “The Tenas Klootchman”, I develop Vizenor’s concept of survivance to account for the experiences of women. I make the case that the continuation of Indigenous mothering practices under settler-colonial and heteropatriarchal systems functions as a form of survivance that is uniquely feminine in the way it works to ‘challenge, subvert and deconstruct’ systems that are both settler-colonial and heteropatriarchal.This research was made possible by the Reignite Your Research Fund and the archives at McMaster University.
Emma Barnes is a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century and World Literatures, and is also a Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded ‘South African Modernism 1880-2020’ project.