The “look of recognition”: Transcultural Circulation of Trauma in Indigenous Texts


This article discusses texts by five different Indigenous authors in Canada on literary representations of transcultural circulation of trauma. In these narratives each of the authors—Warren Cariou, Thomas King, Shirley Sterling, Maria Clements and Richard Wagamese—write about colonial trauma by also writing about traumatic events and histories in other cultures. Although they write from their respective Indigenous perspective, they recognize commonalities with ‘the other’ story and can therefore be understood in the context of Rothberg’s theorization of multidirectional (versus competitive) memory. With an emphasis on connections with Japanese (Canadian) and Jewish traumatic histories, the article also addresses crossovers between Indigenous/postcolonial and ethnic studies and the often silenced links between colonialism and multiculturalism (Himani Bannerji, Sneja Gunew).

This article “The “look of recognition”: Transcultural Circulation of Trauma in Indigenous Texts” originally appeared in Indigenous Focus. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 215 (Winter 2012): 16-32.

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