Kinship in Indigenous Literature and Art
What does kinship have to do with literature and other arts? What questions do indigenous artists ask about belonging and its relationship to contemporary issues? What would be the value of applying kinship as a critical category to different indigenous relationships and experiences?
Dr. Daniel Justice, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture, aims to answer these and other questions by using the notion of critical kinship. He argues that inclusive and context-specific ways of belonging provide important intellectual, cultural and imaginative resources for today’s indigenous peoples.
Justice is concerned with indigenous creative expression and the ways particular works—novels, poems, performance pieces, paintings, sculptures and other artistic productions—pose complex questions about lived and imagined connections and disconnections.
In his research, Justice is applying critical kinship to the fiction, poetry, performance and visual arts of contemporary indigenous artists, especially those focused on human relations with the other-than-human world. He is also applying the notion to the intellectual exchanges between writers and scholars of indigenous literature, with a focus on the indigenous literature of the Pacific and Pacific Rim, as well as the creative works of two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Aboriginal Peoples in Vancouver. In each case, Justice is looking at how artists address diverse understandings of kinship in addressing current intellectual, cultural and political priorities.
Justice’s work will place creative expression alongside language, politics, history and ceremony as a necessary component for the health and sustainability of indigenous people.