Indigenous Literature and the Arts of Community Author Spotlight: Pauline Wakeham

Pauline Wakeham is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario, situated on the land of the Attawandaron, Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Leni-Lunaape peoples. She is a settler scholar of Indigenous literary and cultural studies. Her recent work has considered discourses of reconciliation, reparations for settler colonial injustices, as well as the incommensurabilities of settler-state reconciliation with Indigenous theories and practices of resurgence.

Pauline is the author of the article “Beyond Comparison: Reading Relations between Indigenous Nations.”

Article Abstract:

While the tensions and potential affinities between Native literary nationalism and “Trans-Indigenous” comparative studies of Indigenous literatures have been debated at some length, much less has been said about how, in literary critical practice, scholars might formulate reading methods in which “tribal specificity and pan-tribalism might corroborate each other” (Womack 226). How might scholars read for both difference and connection between and across Indigenous nations, and under what conditions is it appropriate and generative to do so? What kinds of methods might enable such readings while still affirming Native literary nationalism’s call for centering Indigenous knowledges and affirming Indigenous nations’ self-determination? This essay takes up these questions first by engaging the work of Chickasaw scholar Chadwick Allen and Māori scholar Alice Te Punga Somerville, two critics who have formulated methods of literary analysis for reading “Indigenous-Indigenous encounter[s]” (Somerville “The Lingering” 23). Learning from the possibilities and potential limits of Allen’s and Somerville’s methods, the paper then moves towards elucidating a mode of analysis that de-centres comparative and transnational approaches inherited from Euro-Western academia and, in turn, re-centres Indigenous terms of self-recognition and relationality. In doing so, the essay seeks to translate Native literary nationalism’s call for prioritizing Indigenous knowledges and lifeways into reading methods that attend carefully to how Indigenous authors articulate nation-to-nation engagements.

Canadian Literature issue 230-31, Indigenous Literature and the Arts of Community, is available to order through our online store.