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Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Canada

Edited by Christine Kim, Melina Baum Singer, and Sophie McCall
Series TransCanada Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554583362, 284 pages, January 2012
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554584185, 284 pages, May 2012
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554584178, 284 pages, May 2012

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Canada, edited by Christine Kim, Sophie McCall, and Melina Baum Singer
Introduction | Christine Kim and Sophie McCall
Diaspora and Nation in Métis Writing | Sophie McCall
Canadian Indian Literary Nationalism? Critical Approaches in Canadian Indigenous Contexts—A Collaborative Interlogue | Kristina Fagan, Daniel Heath Justice, Keavy Martin, Sam McKegney, Deanna Reder, and Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair
Breaking the Framework of Representational Violence: Testimonial Publics, Memorial Arts, and a Critique of Postcolonial Violence (the Pickton Trial) | Julia Emberley
“Grammars of Exchange”: The “Oriental Woman” in the Global Market | Belén Martín-Lucas
Unhomely Moves: A.M. Klein, Jewish Diasporic Difference, Racialization, and Coercive Whiteness | Melina Baum Singer
Asian Canadian Critical Practice as Commemoration | Christopher Lee
Diasporic Longings: (Re)Figurations of Home and Homelessness in Richard Wagamese’s Work | Renate Eigenbrod
Afro-Caribbean Writing in Canada and the Politics of Migrant Labour Mobility | Jody Mason
Racialized Diasporas, Entangled Postmemories, and Kyo Maclear’s The Letter Opener | Christine Kim
Underwater Signposts: Richard Fung’s Islands and Enabling Nostalgia | Lily Cho
“Phoenicia ≠ Lebanon”: Transsexual Poetics as Poetics of the Body within and across the Nation | Alessandra Capperdoni
Word Warriors: Indigenous Political Consciousness in Prison | Deena Rymhs
Works Cited
Contributors’ Bios
Melina Baum Singer is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario. Her research explores the transnational and diasporic literatures in English Canada. She has co-edited, with Lily Cho, two special issues of Open Letter, “Poetics and Public Culture” and “Dialogues on Poetics and Public Culture,” and has a recent article, “Is Richler Canadian Content?: Jewishness, Race, and Diaspora,” in Canadian Literature 27 (2010).
Alessandra Capperdoni teaches modern and contemporary literature in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. She specializes in Canadian and anglophone literatures, feminist poetics, critical theory, and postcolonial and European studies. Her articles have appeared in Translating from the Margins / Traduire des marges, Translation Effects: The Making of Modern Canadian Culture, Inspiring Collaborations: Canadian Literature, Culture, and Theory, and the journals TTR: Traduction, traductologie, rédaction, Open Letter, and West Coast Line. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled Shifting Geographies: Poetics of Citizenship in the Age of Global Modernity.
Lily Cho is associate professor of English at York University in Toronto. Her recent publications include “Future Perfect Loss: Richard Fung’s Sea in the Blood,” Screen 49.4 (2008); “Asian Canadian Futures: Indenture Routes and Diasporic Passages,” Canadian Literature 199 (2009); and Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2010).
Renate Eigenbrod is associate professor and head of the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba, specializing in Aboriginal literatures. Besides the publication of her monograph, entitled Travelling Knowledge: Positioning the Im/Migrant Reader of Aboriginal Literatures in Canada, she has co-edited several volumes of scholarly articles, most recently a special literature issue of The Canadian Journal of Native Studies and the volume Across Cultures/Across Borders, published by Broadview Press.
Julia Emberley is professor of English at the University of Western Ontario. Her recent book is Defamiliarizing the Aboriginal: Cultural Practices and Decolonization in Canada. Recently, she has published articles in English Studies in Canada, Topia, The Journal of Visual Culture, Humanities Research, and Fashion Theory. kristina fagan teaches Aboriginal literature and storytelling in the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan. She co-edited Henry Pennier’s autobiography, Call Me Hank: A Sto:lo Man’s Reflections on Living, Logging, and Growing Old, which was launched with a traditional Sto:lo feast and book-burning (so that the dead can read the book). She is a member of the Labrador Métis Nation, and her current project is a study of Labrador Métis narrative and identity.
Daniel Heath Justice is an enrolled Canadian citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the author of Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History (University of Minnesota Press), The Way of Thorn and Thunder (published as a trilogy by Kegedonce, and a single-volume omnibus edition by the University of New Mexico Press), and numerous articles on Indigenous literary criticism, history, and cultural studies. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Indigenous North American Literatures and associate professor of Aboriginal literatures and Aboriginal studies at the University of Toronto.
Christine Kim is assistant professor of English at Simon Fraser University. Her teaching and research focus on Asian North American literature and theory, contemporary Canadian literature, and diasporic writing. Her journal publications include Open Letter, Studies in Canadian Literature, Mosaic, and Interventions (forthcoming). She is currently working on a book-length project titled Racialized Publics.
Christopher Lee is assistant professor of English at the University of British Columbia. His articles have appeared in Amerasia Journal, Canadian Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, Journal of Asian American Studies, Router, and differences. His book The Semblance of Identity: Aesthetic Mediation in Asian American Literature will be published by Stanford University Press in 2012. His current research focuses on trans-Pacific literary formalism during the Cold War and formations of “Asia” across settler colonial societies.
Keavy Martin lives in Treaty 6 territory, where she is assistant professor of Indigenous literatures at the University of Alberta. Her articles have appeared in journals such as the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, English Studies in Canada, and Canadian Literature, and she is currently completing a book-length project on Inuit literature in Canada. In the summer, she teaches with the University of Manitoba’s annual program in Pangnirtung, Nunavut.
Belén Martín-Lucas teaches postcolonial literatures in English and diasporic film and literatures at the University of Vigo, Spain. Her research focuses on the politics of resistance in contemporary postcolonial feminist fiction, looking at the diverse strategies employed in literary works, such as tropes and genres.
Jody Mason is assistant professor in the Department of English at Carleton University in Ottawa. Her book, which analyzes discourses of unemployment in twentieth-century Canadian literatures, is forthcoming in 2012 with the University of Toronto Press. Mason has published work on the relations among class, diasporic formations, and the politics of mobility in Canadian Literature, Studies in Canadian Literature, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada, and University of Toronto Quarterly.
Sophie McCall teaches contemporary Canadian and Indigenous literatures in the English department at Simon Fraser University. Her book, First Person Plural: Aboriginal Storytelling and the Ethics of Collaborative Authorship (2011), explores the complexity of the issue of “voice” by examining double-voiced, cross-cultural, composite productions among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal collaborators. She has published articles in Essays on Canadian Writing, Canadian Review of American Studies, Resources for Feminist Research, Canadian Literature, and C.L.R. James Journal.
Sam McKegney is a settler scholar of Indigenous literatures. He grew up in Anishinaabe territory on the Saugeen Peninsula along the shores of Lake Huron, and currently resides with his partner and their two daughters in lands of shared stewardship between the Haudenosaunee and Algonquin nations, where he is an associate professor of Indigenous and Canadian literatures at Queen’s University. He has written a book entitled Magic Weapons: Aboriginal Writers Remaking Community after Residential School and articles on such topics as environmental kinship, masculinity theory, prison writing, Indigenous governance, and Canadian hockey mythologies.
Deanna Reder (Cree/Métis) received her PhD from the Department of English at the University of British Columbia in 2007 and is currently assistant professor in English and First Nations studies at Simon Fraser University. She co-edited an anthology with Linda Morra (Bishops University) titled Troubling Tricksters: Revisiting Critical Conversations (2010) and is currently working on a monograph on Cree and Métis autobiography in Canada. Her article, “Writing Autobiographically: A Neglected Indigenous Intellectual Tradition,” is included in Across Cultures/Across Borders: Canadian Aboriginal and Native American Literatures (2009).
Deena Rymhs is associate professor of English and women’s and gender studies at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of From the Iron House: Imprisonment in First Nations Writing (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008), and her work on imprisoned authors has appeared in Life Writing, Biography, and the Journal of Gender Studies. She is currently writing another book on spaces of violence in Indigenous literature.
Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair (Anishinaabe) is originally from St. Peter’s (Little Peguis) Indian Settlement and is an assistant professor in the departments of English and Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. In 2009, he co-edited (with Renate Eigenbrod) a double issue of The Canadian Journal of Native Studies (29.1 and 2), focusing on “Responsible, Ethical, and Indigenous-Centred Literary Criticisms of Indigenous Literatures” and was a featured author in The Exile Book of Native Canadian Fiction and Drama, edited by Daniel David Moses (2011). He currently has two books under contract, the first (co-edited with Warren Cariou) is an anthology of Manitoba Aboriginal writing over the past three centuries titled Manitowapow (Portage & Main Press) and the second (co-edited with Jill Doerfler and Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark) is a collection of critical and creative works on Anishinaabe story titled Centering Anishinaabeg Studies (Michigan State University Press).


Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Canada considers how the terms of critical debate in literary and cultural studies in Canada have shifted with respect to race, nation, and difference. In asking how Indigenous and diasporic interventions have remapped these debates, the contributors argue that a new “cultural grammar” is at work and attempt to sketch out some of the ways it operates.
The essays reference pivotal moments in Canadian literary and cultural history and speak to ongoing debates about Canadian nationalism, postcolonalism, migrancy, and transnationalism. Topics covered include the Asian race riots in Vancouver in 1907, the cultural memory of internment and dispersal of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s, the politics of migrant labour and the “domestic labour scheme” in the 1960s, and the trial of Robert Pickton in Vancouver in 2007. The contributors are particularly interested in how diaspora and indigeneity continue to contribute to this critical reconfiguration and in how conversations about diaspora and indigeneity in the Canadian context have themselves been transformed. Cultural Grammars is an attempt to address both the interconnections and the schisms between these multiply fractured critical terms as well as the larger conceptual shifts that have occurred in response to national and postnational arguments.


Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Canada is a valuable contribution to an emerging discourse within the field of Indigenous Studies. It furthers a multi-disciplinary dialogue by exploring the relationship between transnationalism, diaspora, and indigeneity in Canada, while interrogating the value of postcolonial theory as a lens for working through these topics. With the objective of ‘[making] discernible the language rules governing our critical choices and the conceptual framework we mobilize, consciously or not’ (9), Cultural Grammars challenges existing notions of home, nostalgia, and authenticity, and explores the linkages between the respective histories that shape transnational and Indigenous identities.... Cultural Grammars is highly sophisticated, intensely theoretical, and can be difficult to apply across disciplines on account of the specificity of some of the literary analysis; however.... there are moments of insight in each chapter that encourage a broad array of readers to be self-reflexive of the nomenclature and theoretical frameworks employed in their own work.

- Gabrielle Legault, BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly, 2012 July