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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The space in-between cultures : site-specific meeting places of Indigenous and European knowledges Parzen, Kristina


Liminal space may be thought of as the space in-between before and after, the space where transformation occurs, and where knowledge is as of yet unknown, but in formation. This concept has been discussed by post-colonial studies scholars such as Homi K. Bhabha and Mary Louise Pratt to describe the place where cultural change occurs as they come into contact with one another. I employ the term liminal space in my thinking about what happens to different cultural knowledges when they encounter one another in particular places. Specifically, I examine the encounter of Indigenous and European knowledges in the liminal space of colonialism in Canada. While I make reference to historical encounters taking place during the 19th century, my focus is on the contemporary context of the 21st century. By examining the site- and land- specific installation artworks of Métis artist Tiffany Shaw-Collinge and Canadian artist Marina Hulzenga, the liminal may be discussed as a means for understanding how knowledge is produced in this space when different cultures encounter each other. I ask, what can site- and land-specific contemporary art teach us about the potential for the occurrence of a non-hierarchical knowledge production through people’s exposure to alternative histories and cultural knowledges? I argue that site- and land-specific spaces can be mobilized as places where different cultural knowledges can come together to share, learn, and understand in a way that is respectful of their differences, sensitive to their unique positionality, and that work against hierarchical structures that promote the domination and privileging of for example, European knowledges over Indigenous knowledges. I draw from scholarship of Opaskwayak Cree academic Shawn Wilson and Mi’kmaq elders Murdena and Albert Marshall through their respective concepts of relationality and two-eyed seeing. These concepts offer alternative ways of seeing and understanding the world outside of the current Settler colonial system of knowledge. Investigating knowledge production taking place in liminal space at sites in Canada by using a two-eyed relational framework allows for the development of a system of inclusive social knowledges, moving away from the current system of social knowledge that privileges Eurocentric ideological perspectives.

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