Settler Colonial Memoirs

Center for Great Plains Studies Author
04/21/2022 Added
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Bernard Flaman (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada) Ready-Made Farms on the Canadian Prairie Through the Lens of Reconciliation In the 1980's, my father added the last plot of land to our family farm in Saskatchewan and it came with a compelling abandoned house. It was a ready-made farm constructed circa 1912 by the William Pearson Co of Winnipeg. The company archive consists only of maps, marketing brochures and several boxes of glass slides. This material was used to market property via "land seeker" excursions originating in Minneapolis to mainly American settlers, in a voracious pursuit of land and profit. This presentation will review these items in the light of reconciliation and as an illustration of what was mistakenly construed as terra nullius. What might be portrayed as a triumphant settlement story, must now be viewed as one that came at great expense and suffering to indigenous peoples. Lily Nagengast (Georgetown University) Heartland and Plains Women Sarah Smarsh's Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth is the latest work in the burgeoning genre of rural memoir. Published in 2018, Smarsh's memoir recounts her upbringing as a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer and the child of generations of teenage mothers. Alongside her family's narrative of struggle on the Great Plains, Smarsh maps out the destruction of the working class wrought by public policy. Despite Heartland's success, no scholarship exists on it, and little scholarship exists on rural literature in general. This presentation situates itself in this significant gap in American literary studies. Instead of casting rural women's memoir as a subgenre of women's memoir, I place the two side-by-side to see where they intersect, rub against each other, and where they vastly differ. Tom Lynch (Professor, UNL) Eco-memoir, Bioregionalism, and Uncanny Settler Belonging in Jerry Wilson's Waiting for Coyote's Call Environmentally attuned people of settler ancestry often feel they lack a deep belonging to place. Bioregionalism developed out of such circumstances. This paper examines the role of the bioregional eco-memoir as a sometimes problematic settler colonial response to this condition. Early bioregional thinkers drew inspiration from Indigenous peoples and bioregional texts evince a palpable envy for the deep connections Indigenous people have, and these members of settler cultures wish they had, with their local ecology. At the same time as these memoirs seek a form of settler belonging that is environmentally responsible, however, they nevertheless often recirculate tropes of pioneering settlement and often struggle to meaningfully engage with the Indigenous displacement from the very lands to which they themselves are seeking to belong. (Moderator: Melissa Homestead) Part of the Reckoning & Reconciliation on the Great Plains summit


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