REVIEW COORDINATOR: Hannah Bacon

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September 4th, 2019 9:25:16 am

Possession, Dispossession, and Haunting

Epistemic Trauma and Resistance in Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach

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Abstract

In Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach, Lisamarie (Lisa), a member of the Haisla community on the north-west coast of Turtle Island [Canada], struggles with the trauma of existing between two epistemic landscapes and the effects of the physical and hermeneutical violence enacted against her community. Monkey Beach begins with the disappearance of Lisa’s brother while he is on a fishing trip with their uncle. In the days between her brother’s disappearance and her journey to Monkey Beach, where she believes he has been stranded, the stories of Lisa’s childhood unfold: her struggle to enact a Haisla identity in a colonized landscape, her relationships with family members coping with trauma from residential schools, and her own experience of trauma, which reveals to her the world of ghosts that mirrors her own. It is through these ghosts and Haisla sacred rituals that she is able to realize her indigenous identity and heritage within a colonized society in order to resist the persisting hermeneutical violence and resonances of communal trauma, trauma which eventually takes the life of her brother and uncle. Through an analysis of Monkey Beach, I clarify the primacy of epistemic violence and resistance for indigenous peoples. First, Using the language of “possession,” and the trope of haunting in postcolonial studies, I elucidate the relationship between cyclical trauma and epistemic sovereignty. I analyze the trauma that has been inflicted upon the Haisla people by colonial rule, focusing on hermeneutical violence, and the ghostly and “demonic” forces this violence produces. These spirits are created at the moment of a traumatic event or circumstance, but come to “possess” the indigenous residents of the borderland, resulting in the repetition of trauma. Then, I will examine the potential of hermeneutical resistance, such as sacred indigenous practices and imagination, to bear witness to and heal from the trauma of colonial rule.

If you are not Indigenous and you do not understand, it is because you came here and thought this was Canada, this baby country made of foreigners, who killed us and usurped whatever authority we had over our lives and lands, and so we could not teach you. You can learn through studying our story …. Remember when you study our story from your lens, you come to non-Indigenous conclusions about us … I have never been able to tolerate others telling me how we are, and I do not believe anyone but us knows who we are. I hope you are all okay with that.

—Lee Maracle, “Scent of Burning Cedar”

1. Introduction

In an interview, Tommy Orange, an indigenous writer and activist states, “[Gertude Stein] says, ‘There is no there there.’ She was talking about how [Oakland] had been developed over and was unrecognisable. I was using that as a parallel to Native experience and the ‘there there’ of the land before it was colonised, developed over, and bordered.”(1) What Orange gestures to is the key feature of “the borderland,” a concept developed by Gloria Anzaldúa in her book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. She states,

A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional  residue of an  unnatural  boundary. It is in  a con­stant state of  transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants. Los atravesados live here: the squint-eyed, the per­ verse, the queer, the troublesome, the mongrel, the mulato, the half-breed, the half dead; in short, those who cross over, pass over, or go through the confines of the "normal."(2)

For indigenous peoples, this is a place where the traumas of colonization are repeated and reingrained. It becomes a double-landscape, the map of the colonizer laid overtop of and attempting to restructure and regulate the body, culture, and movement of indigenous peoples. It is haunted and possessed by the trauma of colonial rule and the ghostly manifestations of a pre-colonial indiginous time. The language of possession implies that this trauma is not simply part of an incorporeal past, but something that is present and ongoing. For example, the genocide of indigenous women in Canada,(3) unprecedented rates of suicide in indigenous communties,(4) and the continued propagation of mechanisms of the settler-colonial state under the veneer of decolonial discourse.(5)

While the Borderland is a place of trauma, it can also be a place of resistance, as its existence implies a strong-hold of communal identity and ownership that has not been fully deconstructured, destroyed, and assimilated into a settler-colonial state. The Borderland becomes a dance of possession and dispossession⁠—a concept developed by Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou that occurs at the point of collision with the Other. Dispossession is the loss of selfhood and identity that is intrinsically connected with the loss of land, cultural artifacts, and the loss of one’s power as a knower. This occurs as the loss of material culture happens concurrently with the loss of identity and the destruction of modes of thinking and being.

This loss of cultural knowledge and epistemic sovereignty is a form of hermeneutic injustice. Hermeneutic injustice can be understood as a sort of social violence that debilitates specific people and communities as knowers, inhibiting their ability to describe and communicate their experiences. Hermeneutic injustice can be thought of as being subject to an experience that one does not (yet) have the words to describe. In terms of indigenous communities, however, it is rather that the knowledge they hold is not deemed important or accurate by the surrounding colonial society. Colonization functions not simply to devalue indigenous knowledge, but to destroy it. This is most evident in the role of residential schools and the legacy they perpetuate. Residential schools do not strive for assimilation, but the genocide of indigenous thought, aiming to render indigenous practices, identity, and ownership impossible.(6) Hermeneutic injustice becomes, through this genocidal force, hermeneutic violence.

In Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach, Lisamarie (Lisa), a member of the Haisla community on the north-west coast of Turtle Island [Canada],(7) struggles with the trauma of existing between two epistemic landscapes and the effects of the physical and hermeneutic violence enacted against her community. Monkey Beach begins with the disappearance of Lisa’s brother while he is on a fishing trip with their uncle. In the days between her brother’s disappearance and her journey to Monkey Beach, where she believes he has been stranded, the stories of Lisa’s childhood unfold: her struggle to enact a Haisla identity in a colonized landscape, her relationships with family members coping with trauma from residential schools, and her own experience of sexual assault, which reveals to her a world of ghosts that mirrors her own. The ghostly apparitions and possessing entities of the Borderland represent the violence of colonial rule, but also offer a connection to lost history, cultural identity, and a chance to reconcile with the past. It is through these ghosts and Haisla sacred rituals that she is able to realize her indigenous identity and heritage within a colonized society in order to resist the persisting hermeneutic violence and resonances of communal trauma, trauma which eventually takes the life of her brother and uncle.

Through an analysis of Monkey Beach, I clarify the primacy of epistemic violence and resistance for indigenous peoples. First, using the language of “possession,” and the trope of haunting in postcolonial studies, I elucidate the relationship between cyclical trauma and epistemic sovereignty. I analyze the trauma that has been inflicted upon the Haisla people by colonial rule, focusing on hermeneutic violence, and the ghostly and “demonic” forces this violence produces. These spirits are created at the moment of a traumatic event or circumstance, but come to “possess” the indigenous residents of the Borderland, resulting in the repetition of trauma.  Then, I examine the potential of hermeneutic resistance, achieved through such things as  sacred indigenous practices and imagination, to heal and “re-possess” identity. As a white scholar of European heritage, I do not wish to prescribe a mode of resistance for indigenous peoples or to repeat their stories back to them. Rather, I hope to further some of Eden Robinson’s objectives – to create discomfort for white readers and reveal the consequences of epistemic violence, particularly within academic institutions and communities in North America, whose universities are constructed on unceded indigenous land and who continue to traumatize and fail indigenous students.

2. Hermeneutic Violence and Cultural Dispossession

In Lisa’s world, the borderland between the Haisla people and colonial power, there are two separate systems of knowledge, which Lisa negotiates between⁠—her indigenous pre-colonial knowledge and the European knowledge-system of the colonizers. This is exemplified in the duality of the novel⁠—the way in which Lisa is able to see the “overlaying” of two worlds (the indigenous pre-colonial time and the present colonized time) or the double nature of the land of the dead. These two knowledge maps (as they manifest themselves) do not exist in balanced tension, however; the indigenous ways of knowing and relating to the environment are being eradicated by the colonizers. A telling instance of this epistemic imbalance occurs between Lisa and her teacher: “She [Lisa’s teacher] had forced us to read a book that said that the Indians on the northwest coast of British Columbia had killed and eaten people as religious sacrifices.”(8) It is evident that while Lisa resists the attempt to “other” her culture through chanting “fuck the oppressors,” this is ultimately futile, as Lisa’s indigenous knowledge continues to be subjugated within the academic system which continues the legacy of residential schools in a more insidious way.(9) Although the indigenous knowledge maps still exist, they appear to “haunt” the landscape of Lisa’s vision, never quite there and still belonging to an indigenous past that grows slowly more obscure as the connections she has to it – her uncle and her grandmother⁠—die off.  

In many of the cases of indigenous conflict with European colonizers, the words to describe indigenous cultural experience (a traditional language) are destroyed and lost. In Monkey Beach, this takes on a number of forms, but is most evident in the tension Lisa feels between acting within a traditional Haisla community and the structures of colonized British Columbia. Lisa does not have access to the Haisla culture and language that she needs to participate in this traditional community in order to coherently explain her experience of the world. In regards to her frustrations about speaking Haisla, Lisa states, “But to really understand the old stories, she [Lisa’s grandmother] said, you have to speak Haisla. She would tell me a new Haisla word a day, and I’d memorize it. But, I thought dejectedly, even at one word a day, that was only 365 words a year, so I’d be an old woman by the time I could put a sentence together.”(10) The Haisla language is an aspect of cultural heritage that Lisa has been deprived of, and its importance is shown progressively in the narrative as the words she does learn become imperative to describing her experiences and completing the rituals of her people. Insofar as this hermeneutic violence is inverted from its usual state–language has been destroyed rather than having yet to come into existence–colonial violence has killed something and left a ghost.

The trappings of colonizing institutions, including work and school, prevent Lisa and her community from participating in traditional Haisla society. As Lisa mentions frequently, she wishes that she didn’t have to go to school so that she could go on long fishing trips with her extended family. It is also implied throughout the novel that the creation of Kitamaat village is the result of a transition from a nomadic state of being to a more sedentary lifestyle. This limitation of movement is necessitated by the structures imposed by colonialism. In order to survive and achieve success in the colonized world, one must conform to the sedentary lifestyle demanded by these institutions. This regulation of movement reflects the imposition of new borders within on? the Haisla nation. The indigenous society and culture of travel must be abandoned, alongside the knowledge that comes with it, and therefore Lisa is only able to passingly experience the nomadic society of the Haisla people.

The subjugation of particular epistemic systems appears once again in the treatment of Lisa’s sacred or supernatural abilities. After her sexual assault, Lisa comes to find the spirit world and the human world indistinguishable, leading her parents and brother to believe she has had a psychotic break since they subscribe to a Western understanding of medicine and psychology. In contrast, Lisa’s grandmother does not find Lisa’s new way of seeing strange, but rather part of a Haisla tradition. This tension is exemplified in Lisa’s trip to the psychologist. Upon arriving, she finds a creature whispering in the ear of her psychologist, “It had no flesh, just tight, thin skin over bones. Its fingers sank into her arms, its legs wrapped around her waist as it clung to her like a baby.”(11) This creature appears to feed off of the psychologist, and later Lisa. It is the counterpart to the ghosts and creatures of Lisa’s world, a byproduct of colonial knowledge maps. This moment in the novel functions to show that while European ways of knowing are thought to be “scientific” or “objective” (for example in the case of psychology), these ways of knowing hide the same components of superstition for which the Haisla tradition is subjugated. As stated by Rebecca Tsosie,

Western knowledge systems are typically built upon a rationalist, secular epistemology that elevates the importance of science, economics, and technology. These forms of knowledge are seen as principled, fair, and neutral. In comparison, Indigenous knowledge systems are often seen as deficient because they are perceived as faith- based ‘religious systems’ and or as the more primitive forms of cultural knowledge associated with ‘tribal’ groups(12)

European epistemology is only a singular way of understanding the world that is not total and, in many ways, is far more disconnected from the land itself than traditional Haisla ways of knowing. This spirit of colonial ideology possesses and feeds off of Lisa, “numbing” her.(13) It also tells her what to say to the psychologist⁠—effectively silencing her own cultural knowledge about the situation that she perceives and driving the Haisla ways of knowing further into hiding.

The inherited trauma of colonial rule manifests itself through the presence of ghosts and spirits that come to possess not only the landscape itself but the people within it. The ghosts that come to haunt the Haisla community appear to replace the spirits of their own tradition – dispossessing them of an indigenous identity and then re-possessing them with the entities and mechanisms of colonialism. By doing so, colonial rule erases and perpetuates the erasure of indigenous ways of being. The resulting trauma and the society of pain created by this cultural violence further limits and restricts the movements and behaviors of the indigenous body beyond that of the white colonizers. Not only can they no longer move in the same patterns as their ancestors, but through the economic and emotional subjugation of indigenous peoples upon the reservation, they are never able to escape the cycle of trauma and pain.

3. Epistemic Resistance and Sacred Rites

While the haunting of the Haisla community by the ghosts of colonial trauma represents the cyclical pain and dispossession suffered by indigenous peoples, the Borderland space offers another possibility⁠—repossession. The Borderland and the ghosts within it offer opportunities not to regain a pre-colonial indigenous identity - as the pristine world of Lisa’s ancestors has disappeared due to environmental destruction - but to forge a new indigenous identity that is able to reconnect and make visible and present the indigenous history that has been disguised by colonialism. As stated by Julia Emberley,

While European testimonial discourses reimagine traumatic residues in terms of the haunting of the past by ghostly figures such as those created by its Gothic traditions, and insist that the only authentic account of a traumatic history is one marked by the impossibility of its representational authenticity, Indigenous storytelling epistemologies shift the terrain of comprehension by introducing the sacred as a site of resistance to the enforced silencing that occurred with residential school violence.(14)

As Emberley argues, indigenous knowledge maps and storytelling revolt against the continued attempts of European or colonizing forces to eradicate indigenous peoples. Within Monkey Beach this is exemplified by Lisa’s participation in traditional Haislan society⁠—going on fishing trips, gathering berries with her grandmother, and holding ceremonies for the dead.

In Lisa’s childhood, this takes the form of the alternate world and space provided by her grandmother. This traditional world is placed in juxtaposition with Lisa’s school life. School appears to be a constant place of contention for Lisa where she is teased, bullied, and repeatedly shown that the knowledge that she has is not valued within this system. Unlike her brother, a high-achieving student who swims competitively, Lisa knows how to collect berries, start and repair boats, and other traditional Haislan knowledge, but is unable to get good grades. These are skills she learns primarily from her grandmother. Lisa’s grandmother’s world is concerned with the natural movement of the environment steeped within indigenous knowledge systems. It is with her grandmother that Lisa’s spiritual abilities are re-contextualized from an illness to a power. Together, Lisa and her grandmother “make peace” with the ghosts of colonial trauma⁠—Lisa’s Uncle, Mick, whose life was spent as a ‘warrior’ fighting the injustice perpetrated against the indigenous community, and her grandfather, who became severely abusive after returning from war. As Lisa’s grandmother states, “You don’t have to be afraid of things you don’t understand. They’re just ghosts.”(15) Through indigenous knowledge and tradition, Lisa and her grandmother are finally able to reconcile with the cyclical trauma of colonial violence.

The book ends at an ambiguous moment, as Lisa nearly drowns in the water of Monkey Beach, dragged under the water by some mysterious possessing entity, but pushed to the surface by her brother’s spirit and other family members. In the final lines of the novel, Lisa hears a speedboat approaching and it is implied that she is rescued.(16) Despite the struggles that Lisa must endure, she is able to resist the dispossession of her identity by the spirits of colonial trauma through aligning herself with an indigenous spiritualism.

As a novel, Monkey Beach exemplifies resistance against epistemic imperialism. Both in its structure⁠—resisting the linearity of the novel’s form and the singularity of both protagonists and conflict⁠—and as a work of resistant imagination.(17) Robinson places Lisa (and the Haisla) epistemic map in a constant tension with that of the colonizers, re-imagining an indiginous history and present that resists the imagined narrative of Canadian history and the ongoing struggles on indiginous peoples. Monkey Beach works to sensitize its readers to a pluralistic and relational epistemic imagination, where multiple truths have the potential to exist, while the epistemically harmful myths of Canadian innocence and the authority of Western thought are dissolved.(18) Through the resistant imagination of Monkey Beach, the ‘unwitnessable’ event of trauma, particularly that of hermeneutic trauma, can  be witnessed.(19) Monkey Beach becomes the frontier of revolt⁠—a space in which the ghosts of colonial trauma are not exorcised, but witnessed and validated, the guilt and burden of its recovery redistributed and colonial powers held accountable.

Bibliography

Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 1st ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987.

Austen, Ian, and Dan Bilefsky. “Canadian Inquiry Calls Killings of Indigenous Women Genocide.” The New York Times. The New York Times, June 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/world/canada/canada-indigenous-genocide.html.

Beckerman, Hannah. "Tommy Orange: 'There's a Monolithic Version of What a Native American Is Supposed to Be'." The Guardian. June 30, 2018. Accessed July 1, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/30/tommy-orange-native-american-novelist-interview-there-there.

Butler, Judith, and Athena Athanasiou. Dispossession: The Performative in the Political. Malden, MA: Polity, 2014.

Castriciano, Jodey. "Learning to Talk with Ghosts: Canadian Gothic and the Poetics of Haunting in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach." University of Toronto Quarterly 75, no. 2 (2006): 801-13. Accessed November 19, 2018. doi:10.1353/utq.2006.0246.

Emberley, Julia. "The Accidental Witness: Indigenous Epistemologies and Spirituality as Resistance in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach." In Critical Collaborations: Indigeneity, Diaspora, and Ecology in Canadian Literary Studies, by Smaro Kamboureli and Christl Verduyn, 69-81. Waterloo (Ontario): Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014.

Fricker, Miranda. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Goetze, Trystan S. “Hermeneutical Dissent and the Species of Hermeneutical Injustice.” Hypatia 33, no. 1 (February 2018): 73–90. https://doi.org/10.1111/hypa.12384.

Goldman, Marlene, and Joanne Saul. "Talking with Ghosts: Haunting in Canadian Cultural Production." University of Toronto Quarterly 75, no. 2 (2006): 645-55. Accessed November 19, 2018. Doi:10.3138.

Goodman, Steve. "Stone Tape Theory." Forensic Architecture. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.forensic-architecture.org/lexicon/stone-tape-theory/.

Grassiani, Erella, and Michiel Swinkels. "Introduction: Engaging with Borders." Etnofoor 26, no. 1 (2014): 7-12. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43264030.

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Johnston, Emily R. "Trauma Theory as Activist Pedagogy: Engaging Students as Reader-Witnesses of Colonial Trauma in Once Were Warriors." Antipodes 28, no. 1 (June 2014): 5-17. doi:10.13110/antipodes.28.1.0005.

Keel, Monique. "Family Violence and Sexual Assault in Indigenous Communities: Walking the Talk." Australian Center for the Study of Sexual Assault Briefing 4 (September 2004).

King, Thomas. The Inconvenient Indian Illustrated: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2017.

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Koggel, Christine M. "Epistemic Injustice in a Settler Nation: Canada’s History of Erasing, Silencing, Marginalizing." Journal of Global Ethics 14, no. 2 (2018): 240-51. doi:10.1080/17449626.2018.1506996.

Maracle, Lee. My Conversations with Canadians. 4th ed. Toronto, ON: Bookthug, 2017.

———. "Scent Of Burning Cedar." The Walrus. June 21, 2018. Accessed July 1, 2019. https://thewalrus.ca/scent-of-burning-cedar/.

Medina, José. The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epistemic Injustice, and Resistant Imaginations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

———. “Varieties of Hermeneutical Injustice.” In The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, edited by Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr., 41-52. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017.

McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. Routledge, 1995.

Nixon, Rob. "Stranger in the Ecovillage: Environmental Time, Space, and Ecologies of Looking." In Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment, 159-81. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Orange, Tommy. There, There. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.

O’Riley, Michael F. “Place, Position, and Postcolonial Haunting in Assia Djebar’s La Femme sans Sepulture.” Research in African Literatures 35, no. 1 (2004): 66–86. https://doi.org/10.1353/ral.2004.0025.

Robinson, Eden. Monkey Beach. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2001.

———. “The Sasquatch at Home.” Manoa 25, no. 1 (2013): 80–86. https://doi.org/10.1353/man.2013.0006.

Soper-Jones, Ella. “The Fate of the Oolichan: Prospects of Eco-Cultural Restoration in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 44, no. 2 (June 2009): 15–33. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021989409105116.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2012.

———. "Can the Subaltern Speak?" In Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, edited by Patrick Williams and Laura Charisma, 66-111. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Stef Craps. “Learning to Live With Ghosts: Postcolonial Haunting and Mid-Mourning in David Dabydeen’s ‘Turner’ and Fred D’Aguiar’s Feeding the Ghosts.” Callaloo 33, no. 2 (2010): 467–75. https://doi.org/10.1353/cal.0.0651.

Tsosie, Rebecca. "Indigenous Peoples, Anthropology, and the Legacy of Epistemic Injustice." In The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, edited by Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr., 356-69. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017.

Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education Society 1, no. 1 (2012): 1–40.

Footnotes

  1.  Hannah Beckerman, "Tommy Orange: 'There's a Monolithic Version of What a Native American Is Supposed to Be'," The Guardian, June 30, 2018.
  2.  Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 1st ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987, 3.
  3.  Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky. “Canadian Inquiry Calls Killings of Indigenous Women Genocide.” The New York Times. The New York Times, June 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/world/canada/canada-indigenous-genocide.html.
  4.  “Indigenous Suicide Prevention.” Centre for Suicide Prevention. Canadian Mental Health Association. Accessed August 12, 2019. https://www.suicideinfo.ca/resource/indigenous-suicide-prevention/.
  5.  Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education Society 1, no. 1 (2012): 1–40, 2.
  6.  Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian Illustrated: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2017).
  7. ‘Turtle Island” is a term that, though not unanimously agreed upon by Indiginous people in North America, has been used in order to avoid the imposition of boundaries by settler-colonial nations.
  8.  Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2001), 68.
  9.  Ibid, 69.
  10. Ibid, 211.
  11.  Ibid, 272-273.
  12.  Rebecca Tsosie, "Indigenous Peoples, Anthropology, and the Legacy of Epistemic Injustice," in The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, ed. Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr. (London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017), 359.
  13.  Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach, 274.
  14.  Julia Emberley, 80.
  15.  Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach, 265.
  16.  Ibid, 365-366.
  17.  For more information on indiginous story structure, see the work of Lee Maracle. As she states in an article for the Walrus, “Our death was always massive in the epidemics we endured. The flu still takes a number of us with it. Suicide is never singular. Divorce is massive, abuse even more massive, and trauma, too, comes in multiples, so the simple business of ‘conflict’ between protagonist and antagonist makes no sense to us.”
  18.  This borrows from the work of Jose Medina, who states, “Different ways of imagining can sensitize or desensitize people to human experiences …. Stigmatizing ways of imagining play a crucial role in causing expressive and epistemic harms—and more indirectly other kinds of harm as well—by distorting and excusing the suffering of some, making it appear as if it were tolerable or even necessary. But resistant ways of imagining can contest exclusions and stigmatizations, and they can help us become sensitive to the suffering of excluded and stigmatized subjects.”
  19.  “Trauma’s story, then, is not a cohesive narrative of events, but its aftermath of perpetual conflict between denial and telling. The traumatized can never say what happened, yet they never stop trying to say….Trauma sets in motion a vicious cycle that never resolves: trauma erases the possibility of witnessing; yet validating the very occurrence of trauma requires witnessing.”  Emily R. Johnston, "Trauma Theory as Activist Pedagogy: Engaging Students as Reader-Witnesses of Colonial Trauma in Once Were Warriors," Antipodes 28, no. 1 (June 2014): , doi:10.13110/antipodes.28.1.0005, 5.

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