Intimate colonialisms: the material and experienced places of British Columbia's residential schools

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Abstract:

The theoretical premise of this paper is that place is an unbounded material, social and cultural agent within and through which practices of colonialism were enacted in British Columbia. Specifically, the places of British Columbia's ‘Indian’ residential schools, and the subjects who occupied them, are conceptualized as intimate sites nested within Canadian colonial and nation-building agendas that were predicated on policies of assimilation, enculturation or annihilation of indigenous people. Such conceptualizations allow for an understanding of both how colonialism was actualized against First Nations' peoples and how First Nations' peoples actively navigated and resisted that colonial project. In order to access experiences of residential school places, the article draws from published First Nations' testimonial literatures. It also draws from creative materials produced by students within the schools in order to understand how First Nations' students articulated against assimilative educational processes. The article concludes with a consideration of how nested place, First Nations' resistances, and Euro-colonial concepts of gender are circulating today with reference to a Dakelh woman (and former residential school student) under consideration for beatification in northern British Columbia.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-0064.2007.00183.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada ( ), Email: 2lsnd@qlink.queensu.ca

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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