Session/Séance 5b: CSTM Panel 1 Agential Performance and Contentious Belonging in First Nations Activism

Session/Séance 5b: CSTM Panel 1 Friday/vendredi 26 May 2017. 11:00AM-1:00PM, EJB 120.
Agential Performance and Contentious Belonging in First Nations Activism
     Chair: MARCIA OSTASHEWSKI (Cape Breton University)


1. To Know and To Be Known: Questioning the Musical Relationship between Inuit and their Canada
     Jeffrey van den Scott, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Studying Canadian music which presents the North as an idealistic space alongside ethnographic study of an Inuit community reveals a complex relationship expressing the desire to know one another. For Inuit, there is a need to be heard and understood from their own perspective. For musicians of the Canadian North, southern popular music connects them to the South. Inuktitut songwriting – be it country, pop/rock, or dance music – suggests not only the need to be heard, but also for their culture to be respected and valued within the nation’s multicultural rhetoric. Despite these efforts this music is rarely heard in the South, creating a disconnect between populations showing an increasing need to know and to be known. This paper focuses on Inuit-made popular music which seeks to speak not only to the Inuit audience, but also to the South, exerting a sense of belonging for Inuit within Canada.


2. ‘Strong Women,’ Feminisms and First Nations Women
     Anna Hoefnagels, Carleton University

Since the 1960s First Nations women in Canada have assumed increasingly public roles as political activists, and many Indigenous women are creating music with activist agendas. Recent political activism in Canada (e.g. Idle No More, demands for an inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women) featured women, music, and musical instruments at the vanguard of public demonstrations. Although these social movements and musical creations are characterized by strong female leadership, with agendas that address issues affecting Indigenous women, ‘feminist’ is not a label commonly associated with them. This presentation engages with the literature that addresses female musicians and leaders to illustrate the myriad ways that these individuals are referenced, to argue that ‘strong women’ do not necessarily identify with a ‘feminist’ label, and to argue that culturally-appropriate language, which is not necessarily ‘trendy’ in the academic world, must be respected.


3. Resonances within the Aboriginal Popular Music Scene in Quebec: Identity and Belonging, Relationships, Indigenization and Dwelling
     Véronique Audet, Memorial University of Newfoundland / Université du Québec à Chicoutimi

For Algonquian Aboriginal peoples in Quebec, music plays a fundamental role. Through music, they assert and construct identities and relationships to the world, in order to live well and to empower the self and the group in their environment. In the contemporary Aboriginal popular music scene in Quebec, indigenized music and associated events and media, albeit in other forms, continue to engage the relational and vital sense of ancestral shamanist musical traditions. The concepts of resonance and ontology of dwelling, or relational ontology (Ingold, Wikan, Bird- David, Descola), enable the analysis of those musics and that scene in terms of relations and belonging dear to Aboriginal peoples. Resonance refers to the sonic and vibratory dimension that permits communication and echoes of sensitive effects through music playing and hearing-feeling: resonance is then a relation established and shared through vibrations, that generates corporal, minded, emotional and spiritual feeling and sense.


4. Singing on a National Scale: Hearing Indigenous Women’s Voices Through Contemporary Throat Singing
     Liz Przybylski, University of California, Riverside

What can we learn about belonging within a Canadian multicultural nation when throat singing, made primarily by Inuit women, has become prominent in the national imaginary at the same time that Inuit women, and Indigenous women more generally, are at increased risk of physical and sexual violence? I illustrate the means by which musicians are using contemporary iterations of throat singing to focus attention on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, highlighting Tanya Tagaq’s social media activism and compelling performances. Unlike previous outsider uses of throat singing as a kind of arctic aural tapestry, these agential performances show how Indigenous women are leading national conversations that reveal the causes of and offer solutions for violence. In this moment, a dramatic shift is imminent as Canadians from all walks of life are starting to listen.

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