Abstract

This essay feels its way through several incarnations of publically performed grief in the territories now known as Canada. In each, the Indigenous “actors” of these territories feature prominently, and the wounding of these individuals and their communities is addressed, presented, intervened upon, and “reviewed” in private living rooms, in public media, and on social-media sites. Through this exercise the essay attempts to discover the mechanics and affect of those “productions” that solicit and elicit a sympathetic response from their witnesses, and to weigh these against performative interventions that reject the sympathetic response and demand from their witnesses’ empathic, effective action to engender social transformation. The examination begins with the production of truth, the performance of sympathy, and the promise of reconciliation on Canada’s national stage; it then looks to public spaces of private mourning on the municipal stage. And it visits, at last, the professional stages of contemporary performance whereupon Native artists, eschewing the narratives of victimization, artfully intervene upon the spaces of Indigenous wounding, as they reconfigure our Nations’ mourning songs into anthems of Indigenous sovereignty and reveal the “sympathy” of the settler-witness to be irrelevant, unseemly, and perhaps even dangerous.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 413-432
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-29
Open Access
N
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