“pain, pleasure, shame. Shame.”: Masculine Embodiment, Kinship, and Indigenous Reterritorialization


This paper argues that the gender segregation, the derogation of the feminine, and the shaming of the body that occurred systematically within residential schools were not merely by-products of Euro-Christian patriarchy, but rather served—and serve—the goal of colonial dispossession by troubling lived experiences of ecosystemic territoriality and effacing kinship relations that constitute modes of Indigenous governance. This paper thus asks: If the coordinated assaults on Indigenous embodiment and on Indigenous cosmologies of gender are not just two among several interchangeable tools of colonial dispossession but are in fact integral to the Canadian colonial project, can embodied actions that self-consciously reintegrate gender complementarity be mobilized to foment not simply ‘healing’ but the radical reterritorialization and sovereignty that will make meaningful ‘reconciliation’ possible? I pursue this question through the study of autobiographical and fictional writings by residential school survivors as well as testimony from the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

This article ““pain, pleasure, shame. Shame.”: Masculine Embodiment, Kinship, and Indigenous Reterritorialization” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 216 (Spring 2013): 12-33.

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