Leslie A. Robertson
Broadly, my research examines the circulation of forms of social knowledge (public histories, academic theories and representations, colonial legends, medical discourses), in sensitive political and cultural contexts (settler colonialism, medical crises, resource extraction, tourism development).
Primary ethnographic projects include research on: indigenous and settler historiographies; colonial regimes of difference, spectacle and narrative; and political histories of resistance in settler nations. As well, I explore forms of power and representation in the context of urban marginalization (drug use, sex work, health, and violence). I have conducted ethnographic, ethno-historical and applied research and coordinated a number of regional oral history projects with members of settler communities and First Nations in Western Canada. I am interested in community-based research, community-generated methodologies, and collaborative forms of ethnographic writing.
My recent research focuses on the existential afterlife of historical colonialism, how people from diverse cultural and social locations inhabit their histories, the imaginative resources they draw upon to speak about them, and the role of anthropology in translating and interpreting them. This includes attention to social projects linked to the re-inhabitance of histories and territories and realized through community-generated and collaborative methodologies.
Tree Biographies: Arboreal Imaginations. (Oral History).
Robertson, Leslie and the Kwaguł Gixsam. 2012. Standing Up with Ga’axsta’las: Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church and Custom. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
Robertson, Leslie. 2005. Imagining Difference: Legend, Curse and Spectacle in a Canadian Mining Town. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
Robertson, Leslie and Dara Culhane, eds. 2005. In Plain Sight: Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. Vancouver: Talonbooks.
2007 Taming Space: Drug Use, HIV and Homemaking in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. Gender, Place and Culture 14(5):527-549.
2006 Risk, Citizenship and Public Discourse: Coeval Dialogues on War and Health in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Medical Anthropology 25(4):297-330.
1998 A Penny for Your Thoughts: (Cultural) Properties of Anthropology in a Transnational Present, Anthropologica, XL (2): 97–214.
Recent Chapters and Research Reports
2017 Satterfield, Terre, Leslie Robertson, Nathan Vadeboncoeur and Anton Pitts. Implications of a Changing Climate for Food Sovereignty in Coastal British Columbia. In, Conservation in the Anthropocene Ocean: Interdisciplinary Science in Support of Nature and People. Phillip Levin and Melissa Poe eds., pp. 399-421. London: Elsevier.
2016 Robertson, Leslie. Cultural Anthropology: Methodological Possibilities, in Ethnology, Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology. Edited by Paolo Barbaro, in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, EOLSS Publishers, Paris, France, [http://www.eolss.net]. 26,000 words: glossary of terms and annotated bibliography (with Lindsay Moore).
2015 Terre Satterfield, Leslie Robertson, Anton Pitts and Diane Jacobsen and the ‘Namgis First Nation. Re-asserting ‘Namgis Food Sovereignty in an Era of Climate Change, OR Three Boats and a Pick-up Truck. (109pp. + appendices). Peter Wall Solutions Grant.https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/facultyresearchandpublications/52383/items/1.0307423
2012 Terre Satterfield, Leslie Robertson, Nancy Turner, and Anton Pitts. ‘Being Gitka’a’ata: A Baseline Report on Gitka’a’ata Way of Life, a Statement of Cultural Impacts Posed by the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and a Critique of the ENGP Assessment Regarding Cultural Impacts.’ (125pp). Submitted to the National Energy Board, Joint Review Panel.
ANTH303A Ethnography of Special Areas - ETHNO SPEC AREAS Sections
A specialized study of ethnographic and theoretical problems in one area. Different culture areas or regions may be selected each term. Consult the Department for this year's offerings.
One fine body…
ANTH540D Advanced Seminar - CNTMP ETHNOGRPHY Sections
One fine body…
Monday / Wednesday, 12:00- 1:30. Term 2.
How do anthropologists work with cultural, political and, scholarly notions of truth? What inspires anthropologists to create works of fiction? What does fiction do that other genres don’t?
This course explores intersections of Anthropology and fiction that will familiarize students with debates about representation, imagination and realism. Course readings draw from a diverse range of ethnographic contexts and eras of disciplinary knowledge production. Through readings, discussion, presentations and lectures, we consider challenges scholars face in their approaches to fictions; political and ethical grounds of diverse genres that include testimonio, the ethnographic novel and theatre.
Wednesday, 2:00-5:00. Term 2.
In this graduate seminar we reflect on ethnographic approaches to colonialisms as well as the discipline’s own relationships with colonial processes. Through a reading of selected ethnographic texts we will consider: historical ethnography, “experimental” ethnography and, ethnographic witnessing /assessment. Topics include: post-colonialism, nuclear/ environmental colonialism, on-going colonial contexts. Students will be asked to consider their own positionality AND focus on one colonial relationship throughout the term, evaluate approaches / methods used in the study of it, give a presentation and, write a paper using existing literatures.
Robertson, Leslie A. with the Kwagu’ł Gixsam Clan, Standing Up with Ga’axsta’las: Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church, and Custom. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2012.
2015 Finalist (1 of 5), François-Xavier Garneau Medal, Canadian Historical Association, (shortlist March).
2014 Canadian Committee on Women’s History Book Prize. Women’s and Gender History. Canadian Historical Association, (May).
2013 ‘Exemplary Title,’ American Association of University Presses, (November).
2013 Wheeler-Voegelen Prize, American Society for Ethnohistory, (September).
2013 Canadian Aboriginal History Book Prize, Canadian Historical Association, (June).
2013 Clio Book Prize – British Columbia, Canadian Historical Association, (June).
2013 Finalist, Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Book Prize, Province of British Columbia, (May).
2013 K.D. Srivastava Prize (1 of 2), Office of the Vice-President Research and UBC Press, University of British Columbia (March).
Robertson, Leslie and Dara Culhane, In Plain Sight:Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2005.
2006 Winner, George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature and Publishing, George Ryga Society, BC Bookworld, and CBC Radio.
2005 Finalist, City of Vancouver Book Award, In Plain Sight: Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. City of Vancouver.