The Testimonial Uncanny

Indigenous Storytelling, Knowledge, and Reparative Practices

By Julia V. Emberley

Subjects: Indigenous Studies, Literary Criticism
Paperback : 9781438453620, 352 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438453613, 352 pages, November 2014

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Indigenous Epistemologies and the Testimonial Uncanny
Part I: “A Witnessing Love”: Testimony in Indigenous Storytelling
1. On the Threshold between Silence and Storytelling
2. Assembling Humanities in the Text: On Weeping, Hospitality, and Homecoming
3. The Accidental Witness: The Wilkomirski Affair and the Spiritual Uncanny in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach
Part II: For a Society Against the Racial Invagination of Power
4. On Not Being an Object of Violence: The Pickton Trial and Rebecca Belmore’s Vigil
5. Lessons in Love, Loss, and Recovery: The Life of Helen Betty Osborne: A Graphic Novel and Lee Maracle’s Ravensong
6. Sacred Justice and an Ethics of Love in Marie Clements’s The Unnatural and Accidental Women
Part III: Ecologies of Kinship: Or, Lessons from the Land
7. The Storyteller, the Witness, and the Novel: Louise Erdrich’s Tracks
8. (un)Housing Aboriginality in the Virtual Museum: Civilization. ca and Reservation X
9. Ecologies of Attachment: “Tree Wombs,” Sacred Bones, and Resistance to Postindustrial Dismemberment in Patricia Grace’s Potiki and Baby No-Eyes
Conclusion: The Indigenous Uncanny as Reparative Episteme
Works Cited

Examines how colonial and postcolonial violence is understood and conceptualized through Indigenous storytelling.


Through the study of Indigenous literary and artistic practices from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, Julia V. Emberley examines the ways Indigenous storytelling discloses and repairs the traumatic impact of social violence in settler colonial nations. She focuses on Indigenous storytelling in a range of cultural practices, including novels, plays, performances, media reports, Internet museum exhibits, and graphic novels. In response to historical trauma such as that experienced at Indian residential schools, as well as present-day violence against Indigenous bodies and land, Indigenous storytellers make use of Indigenous spirituality and the sacred to inform an ethics of hospitality. They provide uncanny configurations of political and social kinships between people, between the past and the present, and between the animate and inanimate. This book introduces readers to cultural practices and theoretical texts concerned with bringing Indigenous epistemologies to the discussion of trauma and colonial violence.

Julia V. Emberley is Professor of English at Western University in London, Ontario, and the author of several books, including Defamiliarizing the Aboriginal: Cultural Practices and Decolonization in Canada.