Professor examines pop-culture representations of indigenous women

NANAIMO - Vancouver Island University professor Allyson Anderson examines stereotypes of indigenous women in today's society.

The photo from the 1920 silent Film Behold My Wife

Vancouver Island University First Nations’ Studies professor Allyson Anderson will explore the stereotypes of indigenous women in today’s society.

Anderson discusses her research, which focuses on representations of indigenous mixed-blood women in North America and internationally, during the university’s arts and humanities colloquium speaker’s presentation Nov. 20, 10-11:30 a.m. at Malaspina Theatre. The event is free.

Her presentation Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves: The Contrapuntal Rantings of a Half-breed Girl, examines depictions of mixed blood or historical Métis, and according to a press release, critiques “disturbing assumptions arising from those depictions that relate to the history of nation-building in Canada and the U.S.A.”

Anderson said in a press release that the social status of mixed-blood women in the early stages of colonization varied. It was determined by their relationships to production in their local economies.

“Their unique position at this curious intersection of race, class, gender and culture, meant that here, in what is now Canada, Indigenous mixed-blood women enjoyed a degree of social status in fur trade and early colonial societies that was uncommon in colonies abroad,” said Anderson.

Anderson’s argument is that pop-culture representations vilified the “half-breed girl of North American colonial yore” and it is rooted in Euro-settlers anxieties regarding appropriation of indigenous lands.

Anderson’s ancestry reaches back to Canada’s Red River Métis. She is pursuing a PhD in Native Studies from the University of Manitoba and has taught First Nations Studies at VIU since 1997.

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