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Reviewed by:
  • Making Space for Indigenous Feminismed. by Joyce Green
  • Constance MacIntosh (bio)
Joyce Green, ed, Making Space for Indigenous Feminism, 2nd ed(Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2017)

The second edition of Joyce Green's Making Space for Indigenous Feminismis, like the first edition, a transformative call to action. 1The seventeen chapters, written by Indigenous women who are joined by a few non-Indigenous allies, are inspiring, edgy, direct, and deliberately crafted. Drawing upon the lens of Indigenous feminist theory, they name injustices that might otherwise remain obscure, while simultaneously honouring those whose stories and lives are drawn upon to illustrate the injustices. Collectively, the authors facilitate understanding the strength, potential, and diversity of Indigenous feminism, while simultaneously inviting dialogue regarding the value of Indigenous feminism for addressing both systemic harms and systemic transformation. Many of the authors also demand that individuals—Indigenous and white men, and white women—take responsibility and be accountable for how they personally benefit from, or are otherwise complicit in, the disempowerment of Indigenous women. 2The topics range from how the Indian Actand its recent amendments continue to position Indigenous women as occupying Victorian gender roles to how Indigenous resurgence movements will be strengthened by engaging with Indigenous feminism (and, otherwise, may risk perpetuating Indigenous women's disempowerment). 3

In 2007, when editor Joyce Green, of English, Ktunaxa, and Cree-Scottish Metis descent, published the first edition of this book, it largely stood alone in exploring, contesting, and asserting space for respectful dialogue on Indigenous feminism. 4 [End Page 187]The book was spawned in response to hostility that Indigenous women had encountered when identifying themselves with, or otherwise experimenting with, feminist theory and practice. The voices that emerged through its poetry, essays, stories, and interviews did not speak to a single view of feminism. Many offered scepticism about what feminism had to offer Indigenous women, given that feminism largely emerged within the circles of privileged white women and carried a history of insensitivity to the devastating power of racism, let alone colonialism. The authors were, however, unified in their powerful commitment to engaging with feminist thought and practice and determined to explore whether or how it could further the justice goals that they were pursuing.

During the ensuing decade, scholarship on what Indigenous feminism is, or could be, has slowly continued to emerge. The space has expanded, with prominent Indigenous scholars being joined by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous critical post-colonial and anti-racist scholars whose work is either explicitly feminist or else engages with issues of gendered power. 5Nonetheless, editor Joyce Green notes that feminism continues to be met with "fundamental hostility" and that many Aboriginal feminists "remain cautious about claiming the label," suggesting that "Aboriginal feminists do not enjoy enough security in either Indigenous or settler state forums." 6The resulting challenges for feminist Indigenous women, who seek "to contribute to the public and political processes in Indigenous communities and organizations" and in the academic setting, include experiencing chilling treatment and insidious suggestions that women are undermining the collective goals, and, thus, future of their Indigenous communities, and efforts towards Indigenous self-determination. 7

The second edition thus builds on the foundation of the first edition, but this foundation is by no means a secure one. The editor has preserved some of the original contributions, while including several significantly revised chapters and adding a number of new contributions. All of the pieces are politically relevant in the current moment, engaging with the experiences and systems that disempower Indigenous women in Canada as well as in other countries. The collective message is clear—that effective decolonization and, thus, radically changing the relationship with the state requires addressing the oppression of Indigenous women, both in terms of their relationships with the state and within Indigenous communities. As described below, [End Page 188]while the book brings an important focus on the experiences of Metis women and also of First Nations women in Canada, there is unfortunately scant treatment of the unique situation of Inuit women.

Of the contributions that were carried forward from the first edition, Emma LaRoche's scathing prose piece "My Hometown: Northern Canada, South Africa...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0235
Print ISSN
0832-8781
Pages
pp. 187-194
Launched on MUSE
2019-04-23
Open Access
No
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