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After This, Therefore, Because of This: Refusing Settler Immunity & Abolishing Indigenous Criminality

  • Author / Creator
    Kauffman, Emma R
  • According to Statistics Canada, in 2016/2017 Indigenous peoples accounted for 28% of admissions to provincial/territorial prisons and 27% for federal prisons, while representing only 4.1% of the Canadian adult population. The majority of analyses drawn from these statistics continue to follow a similar line of interpretation. They begin by pointing out a pattern between the racial make-up of Canadian society and its prison population. Conclusions are then drawn between ‘over-representation’ and racialization in Canada’s prisons and tacit or overt condemnation of this system is offered. The predominant lack of acknowledgement or engagement, however, with the histories and contemporary relations of colonialism is not simply a matter of unintended ignorance or passive forgetfulness. These analyses reinforce dominant national narratives; (mis)represent Canadian governing practices and policies as fair and just embodiments of the democratic will of the people; and suspend the state’s culpability in creating and maintaining a criminal (in)justice system that produces such an abhorrently racialized demographic. I counter these narratives by rooting my analysis of the Canadian prison system in its colonial legacy and ongoing settler-colonial project, which is undercut by a certain set of logics that require the obfuscation of Indigenous presence(s). This informs my contention that, contrary to popular belief, the prison system is in fact not broken, but continues to perform the exact function it was designed to perform in the first place: the ongoing dispossession of indigenous bodies and lands, as well as a suppression of their claims to sovereignty. Overall, I am to situate the state, rather than indigeneity, in its criminality, by showing how the universalism of Canada’s sovereign ideal is constituted by the particularism in the presumptions it makes about its Self, a Self that depends on an impossible singularity.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2019
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-zkmg-b187
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.