Staging settler violence: Sarah Emily MacKenzie, ‘White Settler Colonialism and (Re)presentations of Gendered Violence in Indigenous Women’s Theatre’, PhD Dissertation, University of Ottawa, 2016
Abstract: Grounded in a historical, socio-cultural consideration of Indigenous women’s theatrical production, this dissertation examines representations of gendered violence in Canadian Indigenous women’s drama. The female playwrights who are the focus of my thesis – Monique Mojica, Marie Clements, and Yvette Nolan – counter colonial and occasionally postcolonial renditions of gendered and racialized violence by emphasizing female resistance and collective coalition. While these plays represent gendered violence as a real, material mechanism of colonial destruction, ultimately they work to promote messages of collective empowerment, recuperation, and survival. My thesis asks not only how a dramatic text might deploy a decolonizing aesthetic, but how it might redefine dramatic/literary and socio-cultural space for resistant and decolonial ends. Attentive to the great variance of subjective positions occupied by Indigenous women writers, I examine the historical context of theatrical reception, asking how the critic/spectator’s engagement with and dissemination of knowledge concerning Indigenous theatre might enhance or impede this redefinition. Informed by Indigenous/feminist poststructuralist and postcolonial theoretical perspectives that address the production and dissemination of racialized regimes of representation, my study assesses the extent to which colonialist misrepresentations of Indigenous women have served to perpetuate demeaning stereotypes, justifying devaluation of and violence – especially sexual violence – against Indigenous women. Most significantly, my thesis considers how and to what degree resistant representations in Indigenous women’s dramatic productions work against such representational and manifest violence.
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