Doctor of Philosophy
Situated at the intersection of Indigenous, Canadian, British, and settler colonial literary studies, this dissertation is a transatlantic analysis of the personal and textual interactions of Drummond Island Métis interviewees, Ojibwe poet Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, British travel writer Anna Jameson, and British Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada Francis Bond Head in the Great Lakes region in the nineteenth century. During the period after the War of 1812 and leading up to Confederation, settler narratives of sympathy for Indigenous peoples proliferated in politics and literature, yet what remains largely unexamined in the Canadian context is how this sympathy supports “the settler-colonial logic of elimination,” meaning “the dissolution of native societies” alongside the creation of “a new colonial society upon the expropriated land base” (Wolfe 2006, 387, 388, 388). Jameson’s and Head’s declarations of exceptional sympathy for Indigenous peoples in their travel writings situate Jameson’s Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada (1838) and Head’s “The Red Man” (1840) and The Emigrant (1846) as ideal case studies of this colonial phenomenon. Through archival research and Indigenous literary nationalist theory, I interrogate Jameson’s and Head’s sympathy by reframing their texts within the community- and land-based knowledges of the Drummond Island Métis (The Migration of Voyageurs from Drummond Island to Penetanguishene in 1828 1901) and Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (various letters and poems), speakers and writers who are still relatively unstudied in the Canadian literary field. In revealing how Jameson and Head promote the “logic of elimination,” I simultaneously consider how the Drummond Islanders and Johnston Schoolcraft posit in their texts the possibility of “ethical space[s] of engagement” (Ermine 2007, 193) between settlers and Indigenous peoples. Each of the following three chapters interrogates an aspect of settler sympathy (sympathetic aesthetics, sympathetic geographies, and the settler colonial malady) in relation to important socio-political issues in the Great Lakes region (Indigenous representation, sovereignty, and wellness) by considering the perspectives of all of these writers and speakers while attending to the voices of the Drummond Island Métis and Johnston Schoolcraft to unsettle canonical literary and colonial narratives.
Summary for Lay Audience
British writers Anna Jameson and Sir Francis Bond Head express sympathy for Indigenous peoples in their Canadian travel writings. However, there is still little scholarship that considers Jameson’s and Head’s sympathy in relation to the thoughts of the Indigenous people with whom they personally or textually interacted during their brief visits in Upper Canada in the mid-nineteenth century. This dissertation puts Jameson’s Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada (1838) and Head’s “The Red Man” (1840) and The Emigrant (1846) into conversation with the writings of Ojibwe poet Jane Johnston Schoolcraft and the interviews of relocated Drummond Island Métis in The Migration of Voyageurs from Drummond Island to Penetanguishene in 1828 (1901). By considering the community- and land-based knowledges of these still relatively unstudied Indigenous authors, I interrogate Jameson’s and Head’s sympathy as well as the settler narrative of sympathy for supposedly “vanishing” Indigenous peoples that proliferated in settler politics and literature between the War of 1812 and Confederation in 1867. Each of the following three chapters interrogates an aspect of settler sympathy to demonstrate that this sympathy supports “the logic of elimination” (Wolfe, 2006 387). Elimination refers to “the dissolution of native societies” alongside the creation of “a new colonial society upon the expropriated land base” (388), and its connection to sympathy remains largely unexamined in Canadian literary contexts. While Johnston Schoolcraft’s and the Drummond Islanders’ texts undermine Jameson’s and Head’s sympathy, they at the same time suggest alternate ways to create “ethical space[s] of engagement” (Ermine 2007, 193). Ethical spaces are those in which Indigenous and settler communities form “an agreement to interact” following “the affirmation of human diversity created by philosophical and cultural differences” (202). By attending to the voices of Johnston Schoolcraft and the Drummond Island Métis in conversations previously dominated by settler perspectives, this dissertation seeks to unsettle canonical literary and colonial narratives.
Akerman, Erin, "Unsettling Sympathy: Indigenous and Settler Conversations from the Great Lakes Region, 1820-1860" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7627.