Legal and political anthropology, race and colonization, human rights, indigenous rights and sovereignty, First Nations and the Canadian state, injury, trauma and reconciliation.
My forthcoming book, “Beyond Rights: The Nisga’a Final Agreement and the Challenges of Modern Treaty Relationships” (2021), examines the legal, political and cultural consequences of treaty making in Canada. While the recent report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools identifies the treaty relationship as key to meaningful reconciliation, First Nations treaty signatories have very different ideas about how and why a treaty can reconcile their relationship with Canada than do the federal and provincial governments. For most Indigenous people treaties are a sacred covenant and that should create relationships of mutual respect and obligations between treaty partners. This is only possible, however, when they are implemented beyond a limited, contractual understanding of rights obligations.
I am currently developing a project to examine the development and implementation of the Declaration of Indigenous Rights Act, Bill 41, passed into law by the BC provincial legislature in November 2019. The bill was passed with considerable fanfare, yet it is well understood that the implementation of human rights in national and subnational contexts is inevitably shaped by domestic political concerns. My research is concerned with how the implementation of this bill may domesticate the content of the UNDRIP in a province that is well known for prioritizing the needs and interests of resource extraction. My research will focus particularly on the translation of the right to free, prior and informed consent within the bill and the action plan designed to implement it.
My previous SSHRC funded research examined the litigation that former residential school students brought against Canada and the major Christian Churches who partnered with the federal government to run residential schools. This litigation resulted in the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools. My research traced the multiple dimensions of injury that were presented and fought over in the residential school cases. I look in particular at the problematic role of trauma and psychiatric disorders as evidence of harms that are not just physical and emotional but political in nature.
2019 “The Treaty Relationship and Settler Colonialism in Canada” . In Shifting Forms of Continental Colonialism: Unfinished Struggles and Tensions, edited by Dittmar Shorkowitz, Ingo Shroeder and John Chavez. Pp. 415-435. Palgrave MacMillan.
2012 “Culture Loss and Crumbling Skulls: The Problematic of Injury in Residential School Litigation.” Political and Legal Anthropology Review 35(2):288-306.
2009 “Differentiating Indigenous Citizenship: Seeking Multiplicity in Rights, Identity and Sovereignty in Canada.” American Ethnologist 36(1):66-78.
2007 “Producing Legitimacy: Reconciliation and the Negotiation of Aboriginal Rights in Canada.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13(3):622-638.
2005 “Searching for Guarantees in the Midst of Uncertainty: Negotiating Aboriginal Rights and Title in British Columbia.” American Anthropologist 107(4):586-596.
2000 “Harvest of Souls:” The Jesuit Missions and Colonialism in North America, 1632- 1650. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press. Shortlisted for the Raymond Klibansky Book Prize, Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada.
Legal and political anthropology, race and colonization, human rights, indigenous rights and sovereignty, First Nations and the Canadian state, injury, trauma and reconciliation.Associate Professor, Sociocultural Anthropology
Legal and political anthropology, race and colonization, human rights, indigenous rights and sovereignty, First Nations and the Canadian state, injury, trauma and reconciliation