Decolonizing Diaspora: Whose traditional land are we on?

Celia Haig-Brown


As a way to consider the possibility of decolonizing discourses of diaspora, the central question posed in this paper asks not only where do people of the diaspora come from. In North America, nations have been superimposed on Indigenous lands and peoples through colonization and domination. Taking this relation seriously in the context of discourses of race, Indigeneity and diaspora within university classrooms interrupts business as usual and promises a richer analysis of one particular similiarity amongst diasporic, as well as settler, groups in North America with possible implications beyond this context. In short, the author asks each reader to respond to the question, “Whose traditional land are you on?” as a step in the long process of decolonizing our countries and our lives. While part of the focus for this paper is on theorizing diaspora, there are obvious implications for all people living in a colonized country. Drawing primarily on three pedagogical strategies and events arising from them, the author takes up some of the possibilities for theory-building that they suggest. Reflections on courses taught, student feedback and texts from Toni Morrison’s to James Clifford’s “Indigenous Articulations” ground the discussion.

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