Encounters on Contested Lands

Encounters on Contested Lands

Indigenous Performances of Sovereignty and Nationhood in Québec

Performance Works

by Julie Burelle

Imprint: Northwestern University Press

232 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 14 b-w images

  • Paperback
  • 9780810138964
  • Published: December 2018

$34.95

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  • Hardcover
  • 9780810138971
  • Published: December 2018

$99.95

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  • eBook
  • 9780810138988
  • Published: December 2018

$34.95

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Winner, 2019 John W. Frick Book Award
Winner, 2020 Ann Saddlemyer Award
Finalist, ATHE Outstanding Book Award for 2020
Mention Spéciale, Société québécoise d'études théâtrale


In Encounters on Contested Lands, Julie Burelle employs a performance studies lens to examine how instances of Indigenous self-representation in Québec challenge the national and identity discourses of the French Québécois de souche—the French-speaking descendants of white European settlers who understand themselves to be settlers no more but rather colonized and rightfully belonging to the territory of Québec. 

Analyzing a wide variety of performances, Burelle brings together the theater of Alexis Martin and the film L'Empreinte, which repositions the French Québécois de souche as métis, with protest marches led by Innu activists; the Indigenous company Ondinnok's theater of repatriation; the films of Yves Sioui Durand, Alanis Obomsawin, and the Wapikoni Mobile project; and the visual work of Nadia Myre. These performances, Burelle argues, challenge received definitions of sovereignty and articulate new ones while proposing to the province and, more specifically, to the French Québécois de souche, that there are alternative ways to imagine Québec's future and remember its past. 

The performances insist on Québec's contested nature and reframe it as animated by competing sovereignties. Together they reveal how the "colonial present tense" and "tense colonial present" operate in conjunction as they work to imagine an alternative future predicated on decolonization. Encounters on Contested Lands engages with theater and performance studies while making unique and needed contributions to Québec and Canadian studies, as well as to Indigenous and settler-colonial studies.

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