Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration ed. by Robert Alexander Innes and Kim Anderson (review)
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Reviewed by
Robert Alexander Innes and Kim Anderson, eds. Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration. University of Manitoba Press. viii, 320. $27.95

This collection of sixteen chapters makes an essential contribution to the emerging field of Indigenous masculinity studies. Arguing for the importance of gender-based analyses in the study of colonial legacies and cultural regeneration, the volume demonstrates how critical conversations about gender and Indigeneity are enriched when questions of masculinity are brought to the fore.

Awareness campaigns, arts-based interventions, and a significant body of scholarship has drawn much-needed national attention to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. In this context, a public discourse has emerged around gendered colonial violence, and around Indigenous women's experiences particularly. As the editors remark [End Page 242] in their introduction, however, comparatively fewer political or scholarly resources are devoted to men's issues – even though Indigenous men are also (if differently) impacted by colonial policy and the imposition of hegemonic gender roles and identities. This volume addresses the ongoing negative effects of colonial heteropatriarchy on women, children, and men in Indigenous communities and explores how the performance of positive and healthful masculinities can restore balance and promote decolonization.

In focusing on Indigenous men and on those who identify with Indigenous masculinities, the collection builds upon the editors' previous scholarship. Innes (Plains Cree) and Anderson (Cree/Métis) have researched contemporary kinship practices and Indigenous womanhood respectively; however, their collaboration on the Bidwewidam Indigenous Masculinities project marks the point of departure for this new work. Described in the final chapter by the editors and a project collaborator, John Swift (Saulteaux), the Bidwewidam project (like the book to which it led) is less concerned with defining masculinity per se, than with promoting dialogue around the actions and responsibilities that constitute positive Indigenous masculinities in the context of mino-bimaadiziwin (the Anishinaabe concept of "the good life"). Through a series of focus groups and interviews in communities across Canada, the researchers, policy workers, and diverse community participants in the Bidwewidam project connected healthy expressions of masculinity to the revitalization of Indigenous cultures. Conversely, dysfunctional or violent assertions of masculinity were traced to colonial practices of dispossession that have severed people from lands and from traditional gender roles and responsibilities. Working from the premise that these toxic colonial legacies can be theorized, resisted, and changed – and that cultural persistence and revitalization are key to this work – the book advocates a transformational rethinking of Indigenous masculinity both as a relational practice and as a bourgeoning field of scholarship.

This volume gathers a diverse set of academic and non-academic voices from several disciplinary perspectives, including Indigenous studies, gender studies, art history, literary studies, creative writing, social work, and Indigenous governance. It is divided into four sections, with four chapters in each, and reflects an extraordinary range of topics and approaches engaged by both men and women contributors. "Theoretical Considerations," an opening chapter by Bob Antone, theorizes a nation-specific framework for understanding Indigenous masculinities within the "cosmology of his people, the Oneida." Subsequent chapters by Scott Morgensen, Leah Sneider, and Brendan Hokowhitu discuss the consequences of colonial heteropatriarchy for Indigenous masculinities and traditional gender complementarity. In "Representations in Art and Literature," chapters by Kimberly Minor, Erin Sutherland, Lisa Tatonetti, and [End Page 243] Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair explore self-portraiture, performance art, literature, and storytelling as sites where dominant colonial representations are countered by resistive masculinities, including queer and female masculinities, as grounded in Indigenous knowledge and worldviews. In the section on "Living Indigenous Masculinities and Indigenous Manhood," Phillip Borell, Robert Henry, Allison Piché, and Lloyd L. Lee explore experiential dimensions of masculinity in the context of sport, street gangs, prison systems, and Diné frameworks for identity reclamation and egalitarian life-ways. A final section, "Conversations," engages men's voices directly through a series of interviews. In conversation with war veterans (Ty P. Kawika Tengan, with Thomas Ka'auwai Kaulukukui, Jr., and William Kahalepuna Richards, Jr.), poets, novelists, and storytellers (Sam McKegney, with Richard Van Camp, Warren Cariou, Gregory Scofield, and Daniel Heath Justice), former gang members (Sasha Sky, with Crazy Indians), and participants in the Bidwewidam Indigenous...


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