Convener: Smaro Kamboureli


From the various cultural manifestations that the Truth and Reconciliation process in Canada has generated to the Idle No More movement, from the diverse activities of the No One is Illegal movement to the different ways in which diasporic communities articulate their identities, cultural expression plays a seminal role in exposing wrongs, articulating and documenting truths, and resisting the hegemonic entanglements that have shaped the relationship of the First Nations peoples, immigrants, and refugees with the Canadian nation-state. This work group has a double goal:

- First, to examine existing cultural articulations (e.g., storytelling, writing, theatre, painting, photography, dance, and performance) that have contributed to the collective archive that both records and radically interrogates the historical injustices, and their lingering impact, suffered by Indigenous people, refugees, and immigrants.

- Second, to explore the double desire to manifest wrongs and injustices, on the one hand, and to forge solidarity and “new relationships embedded in mutual recognition and respect” ( across diverse communities.

To pursue this double objective, we invite proposals that will engage with some of the following issues:

- How the creative process inflects truths and traumas
- How creative expression operates as a form of documentation and resistance
- What constitutes the political signature of cultural articulations
- How to register the political efficacy and impact of cultural activism
- Cultural expression and/or activism as manifesto
- Art expression as a means of reconciliation
- How to document cultural activism / curating cultural performance as manifesto
- How to build solidarity across diverse communities via art work
- Cultural activism as pedagogy / reaching out to and educating the public


Each session of the work group will be devoted to a particular aspect of the topic. Each of the first two sessions will include three short papers (20 minutes long) that will address the work group’s focus in critical and/or theoretical contexts and/or examine particular case studies; sessions three and four will include performances and/or presentations of art work that will also be situated critically; and the fifth session will bring together critical and performance work. The conveners will moderate the sessions. The final structure will be announced closer to the time of the Encuentro.

This work group is intended to function as a workshop, hence the expectation to circulate the papers two months in advance (April 30, 2014) of the Encuentro. The presenters will not read their papers but, instead, they will be expected to take ten minutes to present the gist of their argument or the creative process of their artistic work. The goal is to have ample time for discussion. Depending on the submissions received, we may be publishing a special issue of a journal on the topic of this work group.

Attendance is mandatory for all scheduled sessions.


We seek participants who are interested in examining existing or developing new collaborative, transdisciplinary, and politically engaged discourses and/or art work that pertains to cultural and political activism in the contexts of First Nations peoples, as well as immigrant and refugee groups in Canada.

Applicants are invited to submit brief abstracts (max. 200 hundred words) of papers and /or artistic work. We will accept a small number of paper and performance proposals by the same applicants, provided the papers directly thematize and situate the performance. Artists, performers, activists, and academics are equally encouraged to apply. We are especially interested in collaborative presentations of artistic, critical, or activist work. Materials should be uploaded via the online application form before October 9th, 2013.

The number of participants for this work group will be limited to 15 people.

Convener Biography:

Smaro Kamboureli has been a Canada Research Chair Tier 1 in Critical Studies and Canadian Literature and the founder and Director of TransCanada Institute at the University of Guelph. Under the Institute’s collaborative agenda, she has co-edited (with Roy Miki) Trans.Can.Lit: Resituating the Study of Canadian Literature (2007), (with Robert Zacharias) Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies (2012), and (with Christl Verduyn) Critical Collaborations: Indigeneity, Diaspora, Ecology (forthcoming). The author of Scandalous Bodies: Diasporic Literature in English Canada (2000, 2009) and the editor of two editions of the anthology Making a Difference: Multicultural Literature (Oxford 1996, 2006), she is also on the Board of NeWest Press and the founder and General Editor of NeWest’s Writer as Critic Series, as well as of the TransCanada Series with Wilfrid Laurier University Press. As of July 2013, she will be the Avie Bennett Chair of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto.

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