UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Everyday kin (in the) making : spatial and relational obligations in treaty eight territory Hunt, Dallas


This project considers the possibility of a relational turn in Indigenous studies, and Indigenous literary studies specifically, toward the study and practice of everyday kinship. This turn does not propose the complete abdication of larger, macro-political projects, but rather suggests we need to be attentive to both macro- and micropolitical projects in tandem, while simultaneously outlining how the micropolitical as a site of analysis in Indigenous communities often receives little sustained interest or engagement from wider academic circles (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous), in comparison to large-scale Indigenous cultural and political issues. Scholars studying forms of Indigenous cultural production (or settler cultural production about/addressing Indigenous peoples) and Indigenous communities have yet to substantively consider how a focus on everyday life and kinship can help outline, navigate, and denaturalize the colonial dimensions and parameters of what is currently called Canada. This dissertation takes Treaty Eight as its immediate intellectual, spatial, and ecological context, and examines three sites of analysis: a small-town archive that makes settler colonial claims to space and in the process erases Indigenous histories; a hazardous waste treatment centre that eradicates Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world, and in the process damages relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, as well as with other-than-human beings; and the creative and critical writing of Treaty Eight poet Billy-Ray Belcourt, whose poetry outlines the harmful effects of imposed masculinities and the gender binary, and gestures to modes of existing otherwise. Each of these sites contain intimate relationships and complex lived realities that are rarely given sustained attention in Indigenous studies, even as they are arguably the fabric of everyday lives within the shared geography of Treaty Eight territory. Thus, I maintain that a rigorous engagement with the shared geographies we inhabit, as well as the enmeshed and entangled ways we relate to one another other, is not only necessary, but vital if we are going to address not only the intimate, everyday symptoms of colonial injustice, but also the root causes of harm reproduced and maintained by settler colonialism.

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