Reder (2016). Introduction. (Learn, Teach, Challenge: Approaching Indigenous Literatures.)

Reder, D. (2016). Introduction. In D. Reder & L. M. Morra (Eds.), Learn, Teach, Challenge: Approaching Indigenous Literatures (pp. 7–17). Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Retrieved from

“… inclusion of my communities of origin follows local traditions that value genealogies, but is also an act of solidarity with Indigenous students, to affirm that their ancestry is relevant in a university context not typically sensitive to Indigenous concerns.” (p 7)

“I also begin by positioning myself, just as other Indigenous scholars regularly do, to emphasize that all knowledge is generated from particular positions, that there is no unbiased, neutral position possible.” (p 7)

“The focus on the Aboriginal as object of study assumes it to be what Denise Ferreira da Silva calls an ‘affectable other’2 against which the Western subject defines itself. The act of identifying one’s position undermines the object/subject dichotomy and makes visible the lines of relationship that affect one’s perspective.” (p 8)

[“Janice Acoose” (p 8) …]

“… Acoose expounds on her own critique of whiteness, decrying ‘canadian literature as an ideological instrument’ that promotes the values of white european christian canadian patriarchy.” (p 9)

[“Helen Hoy” (p 10) …]

“She cautions her readers to ‘resist universalizing gestures [celebrations of common humanity, for example] that ignore difference and absorb disparate historical and material realities into dominant paradigms’ (7), tactics that typically do little to help dismantle ‘the oppressive hierarchies and unequal distributions of power’ (17).” (p 10)

[“Emma LaRocque” (p 10) …]

“LaRocque rejects accusations that the belief in the existence of difference necessitates that she is essentialist or nativist: ‘It is about theory and praxis. Aboriginality as an identity is more than an amorphous grouping of persons with varied experiences who happen to have some ‘Indian”; ‘it is,’ she emphasizes, ‘about epistemology’ (221).” (p 11)

[“Renate Eigenbrod” (p 11) …]

“… ‘it was not Western but Aboriginal thought that made me rethink notions of truth, objectivity, and scholarship…’ (4).'” (p 11)

“… emphasizes the value of context and constant reconsideration of one’s power, … she wants to convey the value of a destabilized position that is constantly reevaluated as one moves through time and space. Eigenbrod’s conception of position is as one in motion, influenced by the roots one has put down and the routes one has been on and will still travel.” (p 12)

[“Sam McKegney” (p 12) …]

“… non-Indigenous critics ought not to direct undue attention away from Indigenous artistic agency by making the criticism too much about themselves, their experiences, and their inadequacies.” (p 12)

[“Rob Appleford” (p 14) …]

“Appleford identifies two opponents: on the one side are literary nationalists like Craig S. Womack who argue that Indigenous literatures are examples of specific tribal intellectual traditions; on the other are cosmopolitanists like Gerald Vizenor who believe that Indigenous literature invariably includes the mark of colonization and the influence of dominant cultures. … the fight is over who gets to decide what it means to be Indigenous.” (p 14)

[“Margaret Kovach” (p 15) …]

“… it is not enough for researchers to declare their position; they must also reflect on how grounded they are in Indigenous cultures and be able to articulate the purpose of their research.” (p 15)

[“Conclusion” (p 15) …]

Selected Notes

  • “2. Andrea Smith cites the work of Denise Ferreira da Silva who argues in Toward a
    Global Idea of Race that ‘the post-Enlightenment version of the subject as self-determined
    exists by situating itself against ‘affectable others’ who are subject to natural
    conditions as well as to the self-determined power of the western subject’ (Smith
    42). See Smith’s 2010 article in GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, titled
    ‘Queer Theory and Native Studies: the Heteronormativity of Settler Colonialism.'” (p 16)
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