UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The past is present: gendered colonial violence in contemporary Canadian theatre Gogel, Deserae Koby


Throughout my analysis, I query how gendered colonial violence is addressed in three contemporary Canadian plays: Sharon Pollock’s The Komagata Maru Incident (1976), Lorena Gale’s Angélique (2000), and Marie Clements’ The Unnatural and Accidental Women (2005). In my first chapter, I use historiographic metadrama and Indigenous resurgence as frameworks for analyzing the past and contemporary implications of gendered colonial violence in the events portrayed in each play. Building on my analysis in Chapter One, my second chapter utilizes intersectional feminism as a framework to consider the role that White female characters play in perpetuating racialized and discriminatory practices against People of Colour. In this thesis, I argue that it is important to reveal systems of oppression that contribute to legacies of colonial harm, to help create a more just society for all Canadian citizens. I investigate gendered colonial violence in my first chapter through the genre of historiographic metadrama in Sharon Pollock’s The Komagata Maru Incident and Lorena Gale’s Angélique, and in the case of Marie Clements’ The Unnatural and Accidental Women, through Indigenous resurgence as a framework. Although conceptually different, historiographic metadrama and Indigenous resurgence both draw connections between the past and present to critique ongoing issues of pervasive and systemic racism in Canadian society. The playwrights in my analysis present tragic and problematic events from Canada’s past to critique dominant colonial narratives. In the words of Sharon Pollock, “[until] we recognize our past, we cannot change our future” (107). As I argue throughout my thesis, recognition of past trauma is then essential for a holistic understanding of the impact of ongoing systemic racism that results in state-sanctioned, gendered colonial violence. Through an intersectional approach, my second chapter queries how White female characters in each play experience contrasting moments of White privilege and gendered violence, based in colonial norms and structures. I critique how this duality grants them some sociopolitical authority over People of Colour, but ultimately, only works to reinforce problematic colonial hierarchies that subjugate them and the characters they abuse.

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