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Encounters on Contested Lands : : First Nations Performances of Sovereignty and Nationhood in Quebec

  • Author(s): Burelle, Julie Sara Véronique
  • et al.

Public spectacles, as many scholars argue, perform, shape and solidify a given nation's imagined community, celebrating its perceived commonality, while obscuring elements that might threaten its cohesiveness. For settler communities that are predicated on the erasure of indigeneity and its replacement with settlers, spectacles of nation-ness often coalesce in performances that (re)erase the indigenous "other" whose presence challenges settler legitimacy. Encounters on Contested Lands focuses on spectacles of First Nations cultural identity, sovereignty, and nationhood in the particular context of Quebec, a settler community whose own minority discourse and national aspirations vis-à-vis Canada have monopolized center stage. Encounters examines how Quebec's imagined community relies on what Tuck and Yang call "settler's moves to innocence", that is on the province deploying its status as a cultural and linguistic minority within Canada in order to obscure its own ongoing settler colonial relationship with the eleven First Nations whose sovereignty predates that of Quebec and threatens the coherence of its national narrative. Quebec has analogized its minority status with the oppression of First Nations peoples, problematically positioning the Quebecois as allies in a common decolonization struggle against Canada. This dissertation's intervention is two-fold : First, Encounters examines performances stemming from the francophone community that actively imagine and stage the nation of Quebec, tracing how these works reify Quebec's moves to innocence, and erase the contradictions within its minority discourse. Secondly, Encounters focuses on performances by First Nations artists and activists that interrupt, subvert, and critique spectacles of erasure in Quebec's public sphere, and thus, challenge the settler colonialism that subtends the province's national project. Examining these missed, colliding, or violent encounters between Quebec and First Nations' spectacles of nation- ness, this dissertation meditates on the seemingly irreconcilable divide between these two communities. Drawing from the theatrical work of Alexis Martin and Ondinnok, from films by Alanis Obomsawin and Yves Sioui Durand, from Nadia Myre's visual work, and the Marche Amun's protest march, this dissertation reflects on the multiple sites of resistance that animate First Nations' decolonizing struggle in Quebec, and meditate on the dissonance at work in Quebec's national project

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