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Title: Unsettling histories from an unsettled past : (re-)storying as performance in Canada's colonial present
Author: Marchel, Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 0112
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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In 2008, Stephen Harper, then Prime Minister of Canada, delivered an official apology for the Indian Residential School system (1883 to 1996). This was the first formal apology from a prime minister to the generations of Indigenous peoples who suffered and continue to be impacted by the traumatic legacies of this federal policy. Little more than a year later, however, Harper announced to reporters at a G20 summit in Philadelphia that Canada has “no history of colonialism” (qtd. in Wherry). The dissertation takes Harper’s claim of colonial denial as its theoretical springboard, asking: What does it mean for Canada to apologise for the residential school system, whilst simultaneously denying the country’s history of colonialism? Investigating this question through a performance studies analytic, I ultimately conclude that Harper’s 2009 statement is indicative of how national identity is constructed by the state; that is, through settler colonial performances of selective forgetting, which serve strategically to undermine Indigenous sovereignty. The doctoral project unfolds thematically through analysing three principal events between 2008 and 2015: the War of 1812 commemorations; the ‘Idle No More’ protest movement; and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. I have identified two main tasks for this study. First, to query the dominant story/stories of Canada animated in the colonial present. Second, to investigate Indigenous interventions that destabilise mythologies of settler benevolence through a ‘re-storying’ of Canada; a term I use to denote counter-narratives and embodied practices unsettling the country’s past that are, by definition, separate from those stories that reify narratives of national innocence. By exploring both official stories and re-stories through a performance studies framework, moored in a self-reflexive methodology informed by my fieldwork, the dissertation offers a critical investigation of Canada’s refusal to reckon with its uncomfortable histories in an age of ostensible reconciliation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick ; Foundation for Canadian Studies in the United Kingdom
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: F1001 Canada (General)