X

About

I am currently a 6th year PhD candidate in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), at the University of Toronto, Canada. My thesis is titled "Decolonizing our Technologies of Knowing: Publishing for the Indigenous Good in the Digital Era" and is supervised by Dr. Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, along with doctoral committee members Eve Tuck and Scott Morgenson. It engages the fields of sociology, settler colonialism & digital humanities, examining the ways in which Indigenous publishers articulate the possibilities and challenges of digital publishing technologies for furthering decolonization and Indigenous sovereignty. For 2013-2015 I was awarded the Canadian Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship for this work. In the two years since the SSHRC fellowship's completion (2015/2016 & 2016/2017), I have been awarded the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) for this work.

I also hold a Masters in Education (M.Ed) in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, a Master's certificate in Comparative, International & Development Education - both from the University of Toronto - and a Bachelors of Arts (B.A) in English from the University of Victoria.

I currently live and work with my family as a zhaganash/settler in Tkaronto/Toronto, in Dish with One Spoon Treaty territory, and I am continually learning more about what it means to work for decolonization as a settler on Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee lands.

In 2011 I co-founded - and continue to be the Editor of - one of the premier journals for critical Indigenous and decolonization studies, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society. It is an interdisciplinary, Open Access journal that brings together discussions of Indigenous knowledges and decolonization from around the globe, and innovates and expands the ways in which academic knowledge might be made accessible to broader communities. Decolonization is a collaborative project committed to centring decolonization work grounded in community, activism, and engagement beyond the academy - work produced by a diverse group of scholars and activists from around the globe. The journal has, in a short time, gathered a world-class group of diverse and innovative scholars as members of various Editorial Boards, as well as an engaged and dedicated audience that includes academics, activists, community members, and artists.

Decolonization has published nine journal issues over three and a half years, along with over a hundred other online essays, stories, and reviews on our companion WordPress site. Decolonization continues to grow and develop, informed by a deep commitment to the political work of decolonization and to publishing in ways that are both responsive but also innovating and pushing the boundaries of what scholarly publishing can be and do. In 2013 I was interviewed about the journal; you can listen to that interview here.

I believe in building community, in doing the work of creating and sustaining relationships, and working responsively and accountably the the knowledges, the people, and the places that I engage. My work is intentionally collaborative, and is enriched by the many people I've had the honor to work and build with. This ethos of collaboration, community and co-creation is central to my work and, I believe, to decolonization.

Explore the rest of the site to find out more!

 

 

Publications

 

Talks

My Recent and Upcoming Speaking Engagements

 

Readings

Ideas I'm Working With

"Different social practices demand that information appear in different forms if that information is to produce a legitimate form of knowledge."

Elizabeth Povinelli (2012)

"How you fight determines who you will be when the battle is over."

Taiaiake Alfred (2009)

"Surviving as a Native person in any colonial situation is a strange mix of refusal, creation, and assertion."

Haunani-Kay Trask (1999)

"An ethic of incommensurability...stands in contrast to aims of reconciliation....Reconciliation is about rescuing settler normalcy, about rescuing a settler future. Reconciliation is concerned with questions of what will decolonization look like? What will happen after abolition? What will be the consequence of decolonization for the settler? Incommensurability acknowledges that these questions need not, and perhaps cannot, be answered in order for decolonization to exist as a framework.

...Decolonization is not obliged to answer those questions - decolonization is not obligated to settlers, or settler futurity. Decolonization is accountable to Indigenous sovereignty and futurity."

Eve Tuck & K. Wayne Yang (2012)

"While discursive categories are clearly central sites of contestation, they must be grounded in and informed by the material politics of everyday life, especially the daily life struggles for survival of...those written out of history."

Chandra Mohanty (2003)

"The idea that technology is neutral is itself not neutral."

Jerry Mander (1991)

"The Indian is a ghost in the system, an errant or virus that disrupts the virtual flows by stopping them, or revealing them to be what they are and will have been all along: colonialist."

Jodi Byrd (2011)

"We [Indigenous people] resist not to overthrow a government or to take political power, but because it is natural to resist extermination, to survive. We don't want power over white institutions; we want white institutions to disappear. That's revolution."

Russel Means (1980)

"The decolonization of our technologies of knowledge...insists on the necessity of transforming not only the use and the product of the technology but also the discursive context that defines what "is" epistemic technology."

Freya Schiwy (2009)

Decolonize Your Mind2

Blog

Most Recent Post

Refusing Canada

BY Eric Ritskes / Commentary, Media / 0 COMMENTS


plate3“I don’t want no fucking country…” Dionne Brand [i]

This is a call for us all to refuse the country, the violence of its founding and maintenance, and its profound, ongoing mechanisms of exclusion; this is a call to refuse its false sense of belonging. This image, and the above quote, calls us to upend the national imagination and embrace otherwise possibilities.

The Canada 150 logo is described as a series of diamonds coming together to form the national symbol of the maple leaf.[iii] It is intended to be a celebratory logo of belonging and inclusion, to represent the many pieces of a multicultural whole that come together to form Canada.

But, as Rinaldo Walcott reminds us, the oft celebrated multicultural project of Canada is not a project of belonging, but rather a project of Whiteness that exacerbates the problem of belonging for those who do not subscribe to this normative Whiteness. [ii]

It is not only a project of profound Whiteness (and antiblackness), it is also a settler colonial project. Canada is an ongoing project of violence that seeks to subdue and destroy Indigenous peoples, cultures, and lands. To celebrate Canada is to celebrate colonial conquest, settlement, and the attendant violence necessary to secure the nation’s ongoing legitimatization and normalization.

If the Canadian government wants to make reconciliation a central part of its birthday celebrations, doesn’t there need to be truth as part of the process before we can celebrate reconciliation? And, if we’re being truthful, isn’t there more than truth needed before we can celebrate reconciliation?

Instead of allowing Canada to recuperate its image through celebrations of reconciliation and inclusion (a classic counterinsurgency method, as Dean Spade reminds us), truth telling disrupts the peaceful, multicultural narrative that marginalizes the experiences of those who are subjected to the colonial violence of the state.

A politics of ‘no fucking country’, a politics that upends the nation and its symbols, is a process of truth telling; it is not merely a rejection of the violence of the state, but a generative stance, the opening of otherwise possibilities. The politics of refusal is not merely reactionary, nor is it foundering for lack of otherwise possibilities. In this image, the logo is flipped and the diamonds no longer symbolize celebration but the sharpness of their edges, a cutting edge that brings clarity. In refusal, we find a tool to aid in crafting the future we are hoping for.

"I am not a nation state, nor do I strive to be one... " Leanne Simpson [iii]

There are otherwise worlds being built, otherwise possibilities being breathed and being dreamed into being. There are alternatives to the nation state. As Leanne Simpson writes in the above essay, Indigenous nationhood models otherwise worlds, ones that do not rely on violence, that are not enclosures. Indigenous nationhood demonstrates for us a possibility that requires a different sort of embodied relationality and accountability to one another and to the land we live on.

So, in refusal of the settler nation state of Canada we find not only a rejection of the celebration of the ongoing colonialism but we find an opportunity to support and celebrate the ongoing resistance to it. In refusal, we disrupt the normalization and legitimization of colonial violence and open space for otherwise possibilities to be dreamt and built into being. That is something worth celebrating.

___________________

Shirts, sweaters and stickers are currently being sold with the Colonialism 150 logo, with proceeds going to the Onaman Collective's Indigenous Tattoo Gathering, an important gathering and practice of Indigenous sovereignty. They can be purchased here. More information about the gathering can be found here.

__________________

The above reflection was included with the Colonialism 150 logo as a contribution to the book Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayaledited by M. Tait and K. Ladner.

The logo has also been mentioned in other mainstream media, including: a panel I was invited to be a part of on CBC Radio's The Current, in Canadian Art online, Rabble.ca and The Walrus

____________________

[i] Dionne Brand, Land to Light On (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1997), 48.

[ii] Rinaldo Walcott, "Land to Light On? Making Reparation in a Time of Transnationality," in Metaphoricity and the Politics of Mobility, ed. Maria Margaroni and Effie Yiannopoulou (Amsterdam: Rodopi B.V., 2006), 89.

[iii] Leanne Simpson, “I am Not a Nation State,” NationsRising.org, http://nationsrising.org/i-am-not-a-nation-state/

 

More Recent Posts

 

Contact Me

Use the contact form to send me an email

Keep in touch with me

Let's connect & collaborate! Send me an email, subscribe to the site, or follow me on Twitter.