Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Posted in Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-02-19 17:38Z by Steven

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
October 2017
295 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-77112-240-5

Michelle La Flamme, Professor of English
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Canada’s history is bicultural, Indigenous, and multilingual, and these characteristics have given risen to a number of strategies used by our writers to code racially mixed characters. This book examines contemporary Canadian literature and drama in order to tease out some of those strategies and the social and cultural factors that inform them.

Racially hybrid characters in literature have served a matrix of needs. They are used as shorthand for interracial desire, signifiers of taboo love, images of impurity, symbols of degeneration, and examples of beauty and genetic perfection. Their fates have been used to suggest the futility of marrying across racial lines, or the revelation of their “one drop” signals a climactic downfall. Other narratives suggest mixed-race bodies are foundational to colonization and signify contact between colonial and Indigenous bodies.

Author Michelle LaFlamme approaches racial hybridity with a cross-generic and cross-racial approach, unusual in the field of hybridity studies, by analyzing characters with different racial mixes in autobiographies, fiction, and drama. Her analysis privileges literary texts and the voices of artists rather than sociological explanations of the mixed-race experience. The book suggests that the hyper-visualization of mixed-race bodies in mono-racial contexts creates a scopophilic interest in how those bodies look and perform race.

La Flamme’s term “soma text” draws attention to the constructed, performative aspects of this form of embodiment. The writers she examines witness that living in a racially hybrid and ambiguous body is a complex engagement that involves reading and decoding the body in sophisticated ways, involving both the multiracial body and the racialized gaze of the onlooker.

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Paradox: Identity and Belonging

Posted in Articles, Arts, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2017-02-11 17:57Z by Steven

Paradox: Identity and Belonging

Ceramics Monthly
March 2017

Heidi McKenzie, Ceramic Artist
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I was in the room when Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates delivered his keynote speech at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2014. Among many things, he spoke about his sense of isolation working as a black artist in an otherwise white-dominated creative milieu. He asked people in the audience who self-identified as African American to stand up. When fewer than 40 people in a room of 4000-plus stood up, I was shaken. I recognized that this was a physical expression of a deeply rooted sense of disenfranchisement, on both collective and personal levels. Gates put the discomfort of race on the table. It was a call to action.

I organized a panel of mixed-race ceramic sculpture artists whose work speaks to issues of race and identity titled “Paradox: Identity & Belonging” for NCECA’s 50th anniversary conference in Kansas City, Missouri, last spring. Fellow Canadian, Brendan Tang, as well as Americans Jennifer Datchuk and Nathan Murray joined me on stage. Their words cut deeply into the personal journeys of many in the audience who stayed and shared with us for over an hour after the panel discussion, a conversation that moved onto a gathering of more than 20 at a local eatery. The synergies, revelations, and resonances were powerful, walls came tumbling down, and for a moment in time there was a collective sense of empowerment, a feeling that we’re all in this together, sifting through the paradox of mixed race…

Read the entire article here.

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Four Queer Black Canadian Women Writers You Should Be Reading for Black History Month

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Canada, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Women on 2017-02-06 16:38Z by Steven

Four Queer Black Canadian Women Writers You Should Be Reading for Black History Month

Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian: A Queer Canadian Book Blog: News and Reviews of Queer Canadian Writers and Books
2017-02-03

Casey Stepaniuk

It’s February, and that means it’s Black History Month! Check out these four queer Black Canadian women authors whose books you should definitely have on your shelves.

Suzette Mayr

I only recently read my first book by Calgary fiction writer and academic Suzette Mayr, who’s got mixed Afro-Caribbean and German background. Venous Hum is a satire set in Calgary full of wacky stuff like vegetarian vampires, extramarital affairs, and high school reunions, while the African-Canadian mixed race lesbian main character Lai Fun (named because her father loves the Chinese noodle of the same name) stumbles through her late thirties. It’s weird, and really funny. Mayr’s most recent novel is Monocerous, which has won and been nominated for lots of awards like the 2012 ReLit Award, the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Award, and more! It’s a tragicomic story about the aftermath of the suicide of a 17-year-old bullied gay boy and how his death affects everyone around him. Her previous novels are The Widows and Moon Honey—don’t you just love her unique, inventive book titles?—are about topics as diverse as three older women deciding to go over Niagara Falls in a bright orange space-age barrel and white lovers magically waking up Black. Hers is fiction to read if you are looking for a new take on magical realism and are bored of all the same-old, same-old tales about lesbian relationships. Her next book is due out later this year, and is called Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall

Read the entire article here.

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Ep.9 – Genetics and Identity

Posted in Audio, Canada, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2017-01-27 19:06Z by Steven

Ep.9 – Genetics and Identity

Scientifica Radio: a CKUT radio science magazine
CKUT 90.3 FM
Montreal, Canada
2017-01-27

On today’s episode, Rackeb Tesfaye and Brïte Pauchet explore the link between genetics and identity.

Can genetic DNA testing determine our identity? Are they overhyped?

Amanda Morgan, a genetic counselling graduate student at McGill University, explains what genetic testing is, how it can be used, and what to take into account when you use companies like 23andme or ancestry.com.

We then talk to Dr. Kim TallBear, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, to discuss the intersection of genetics, Indigenous identity and cultural appropriation

Listen to the episode here.

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Defined by mixed race

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive on 2017-01-25 00:33Z by Steven

Defined by mixed race

The Globe & Mail
2017-01-23

Mckenzie Small
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Differences make you stand out, Mckenzie Small writes, and it’s something to be proud of

She just keeps staring at me – as if I’m from another dimension – and then she asks the all-too-familiar question: “So what are you, exactly?”
I have to ask myself: Is she asking about my race or my species?

I’m mixed with more than one race. It has defined me a lot more than you would think. This part of my life shaped the way I grew up and I never really noticed until I got older.

Ever heard of the guessing game?

Probably not. It’s a game people play where they try to guess where you’re from, because “Canada” is never sufficient…

Read the entire article here.

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Statement by Joseph Boyden

Posted in Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Statements on 2017-01-19 00:25Z by Steven

Statement by Joseph Boyden

CNW: A Cision Company
2017-01-11

Joseph Boyden

TORONTO, Jan. 11, 2017 /CNW/ – A few weeks ago, I found out that my 85-year-old mom had been contacted by a journalist who prodded her with pointed and personal questions about her heritage. Specifically, he asked her to prove how Indigenous she is.

My family’s heritage is rooted in our stories. I’ve listened to them, both the European and the Indigenous ones, all my life. My older sisters told me since childhood about my white-looking father helping his Indian-looking brother hide their blood in order to survive in the early 1900’s. My mother’s family history is certainly not laid out neatly in the official records, or on ancestry.ca either. From the age of nine or ten, the woman I knew as my grandmother told me stories about my mother that, until recently, my mother preferred not to share with anyone. The details are private and painful, yet my mother has been forced to revisit aspects of her past she believed were closed away forever.

Children don’t go about consciously presenting identities; they just are who they are. And that’s how I was: a white kid from Willowdale with native roots. The Ojibwe family I grew-up with in summers on Christian Island still call me cousin or uncle.  The bad poetry I first scribbled as a troubled teen was about searching for my mother’s clan.  For the last 22 years I’ve been a member of a Moose Cree First Nation family, active in their community and doing everything we can to get youth out onto the land at Camp Onakawana on the Abitibi River. This is my life.  And I’ve always said pretty much the same thing: “a small part of me is Indigenous, but it’s a big part of who I am.”…

Read the entire new release here.

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The Boyden affair just got murkier: Salutin

Posted in Articles, Biography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2017-01-15 22:03Z by Steven

The Boyden affair just got murkier: Salutin

The Toronto Star
2017-01-13

Rick Salutin

Celebrated author agrees to select interviews, insists he never embellished or lied about his heritage, but also offered platitudes versus confronting precise criticisms

I found Joseph Boyden’s interview Wednesday on CBC — in a word rarely called for — unctuous. He surfaced three weeks after saying he wouldn’t deal with questions about his Indigeneity publicly but only in a “speaking circle.” This after filling what he calls “airtime” for 10 years on every form of media.

Now he’s back out there on CBC and in the Globe, though solely with “acceptable” interviewers. APTN, which started all this with a cautious, respectful piece by Jorge Barrera on Boyden’s claims, called it a “PR push.”…

Boyden’s language was strikingly vague for someone who writes literary fiction. He talked about stories told in his family but gave few examples, instead repeatedly calling them “beautiful” and “amazing.” He said Holy Mackerel and Ohmygosh. He denied making things up but host Candy Palmater didn’t push very hard. As she said, they’re friends and “I know it would be a different conversation if we were alone over a glass of wine.” As troublemaker Robert Jago bracingly tweeted: “Candy Palmater. WTF?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Full interview: Joseph Boyden on his heritage

Posted in Articles, Audio, Autobiography, Biography, Canada, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2017-01-15 21:41Z by Steven

Full interview: Joseph Boyden on his heritage

CBC Radio
2017-01-11

Jesse Kinos-Goodin


Author Joseph Boyden addresses the recent controversy surrounding his Indigenous ancestral claims. (Penguin)

“A small part of me is Indigenous, but it’s a big part of who I am.”

Is Joseph Boyden really Indigenous?

It’s a question a lot of people have been asking, and one the author himself addressed in an exclusive interview Wednesday with CBC Radio’s Candy Palmater.

“Absolutely,” Boyden said. “I’m a white kid from Willowdale (Ontario) with native roots — a small part of me is Indigenous, but it’s a big part of who I am.”

It was Boyden’s first interview since the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) released an investigation last month that called into question his Indigenous heritage and sparked a major controversy. The Giller Prize-winning author of Through Black Spruce is known for writing about Indigenous culture and communities in his novels, which also include Three Day Road and The Orenda. Boyden also has become a familiar voice when it comes to speaking on Indigenous issues in Canada

Read the entire article here. Listen to the interview (00:32:32) here.

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Soccer Led Me To Embrace Every Part Of My Multiracial Heritage

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive on 2017-01-10 21:23Z by Steven

Soccer Led Me To Embrace Every Part Of My Multiracial Heritage

The Huffington Post
2017-01-06

Geneva Abdul, Publicist & Writer
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Born from the marrying of British and Trinidadian cultures, I defined my cultural identity through soccer when I decided to play for Trinidad and Tobago at the age of 14.

Growing up, my parents had never imposed their cultures on me — my cultural identity had always felt like a decision between Canadian, Trinidadian and British. It wasn’t until I had recently retired my soccer cleats when I’d realized I had never had to make the choice, that I could be all three.

As a woman I oscillate between essence and existence. As a woman of colour I participate in a more complex rigmarole of types. The quotidian experience of being asked “what’s your background” or being told “you’re pretty for a brown girl” and “I didn’t know brown girls were athletic” served as a set of ongoing reminders that constantly interpolated my cultural identity…

Read the entire article here.

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The complex issue of indigenous heritage

Posted in Articles, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States on 2017-01-10 19:09Z by Steven

The complex issue of indigenous heritage

The Toronto Star
2017-01-10

Don Smith, Professor Emeritus of History
University of Calgary


Archie Belaney, famously known as Grey Owl until his dealth in 1938, is an example of the complex issue of indigenous identifcation. (TORONTO STAR ARCHIVES)

Acclaimed novelist Joseph Boyden faces controversy surrounding his heritage but there is a long history in North American of blurred lines.

The question of the indigenous identity of prize-winning novelist Joseph Boyden had raised great media attention. It is a complex issue.

Joseph-Louis Gill (1719-1798), one of the famous 18th century chiefs of the Abenaki First Nations, resident at Odanak, just west of Montreal, was “white.” But only in a biological sense, as both his parents had been captives adopted into Indian families and raised in Indian fashion.

Among the Red River Métis in the 19th century, the Métis patriot, André Nault (1830-1924), was born of French Canadian parents who had become fully integrated into the Red River Métis community in what is now southern Manitoba. The buffalo hunter and captain of the Métis stood by his first cousin Louis Riel in the Red River Resistance of 1869-70, serving in his provisional government. Three of Nault’s sons took part in the events of 1885 in Saskatchewan.

In Joseph Boyden’s case no evidence, to my knowledge, has emerged that he was raised in an indigenous community. He was not a Joseph-Louis Gill or André Nault. Instead, his Aboriginal connection relates to his distant indigenous ancestry on both his mother’s and father’s side. This enters into another realm entirely.

I have studied the life of Archie Belaney (1888-1938), the Canadian writer who presented himself as indigenous, as Grey Owl, the son of a Scot and an Apache woman. He died on April 13, 1938. The day after his death the Globe and Mail termed him, “the most famous of Canadian Indians.” Then, within just one week the story broke. It was revealed that he was actually born and raised in Hastings, England. His “racial” origins were a total fantasy…

Read the entire article here.

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