New ebooks From Canadian Indies

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category: Social Science
published: Aug 2017
publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Violence Against Indigenous Women

Literature, Activism, Resistance

by Allison Hargreaves

tagged: indigenous studies, canadian, women's studies

Violence against Indigenous women in Canada is an ongoing crisis, with roots deep in the nation’s colonial history. Despite numerous policies and programs developed to address the issue, Indigenous women continue to be targeted for violence at disproportionate rates. What insights can literature contribute where dominant anti-violence initiatives have failed? Centring the voices of contemporary Indigenous women writers, this book argues for the important role that literature and storytelling can play in response to gendered colonial violence.

Indigenous communities have been organizing against violence since newcomers first arrived, but the cases of missing and murdered women have only recently garnered broad public attention. Violence Against Indigenous Women joins the conversation by analyzing the socially interventionist work of Indigenous women poets, playwrights, filmmakers, and fiction-writers. Organized as a series of case studies that pair literary interventions with recent sites of activism and policy-critique, the book puts literature in dialogue with anti-violence debate to illuminate new pathways toward action.

With the advent of provincial and national inquiries into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, a larger public conversation is now underway. Indigenous women’s literature is a critical site of knowledge-making and critique. Violence Against Indigenous Women provides a foundation for reading this literature in the context of Indigenous feminist scholarship and activism and the ongoing intellectual history of Indigenous women’s resistance.

About the Author
Allison Hargreaves is a settler-scholar of Indigenous literatures and an assistant professor in the Department of Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, in unceded Syilx territory. Her research investigates literary interventions into gendered colonial violence in Canada, and has appeared in Studies in American Indian Literatures, Canadian Literature Quarterly, Canadian Woman Studies, and Canadian Theatre Review.
  • Winner, ACQL Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism
  • Runner-up, ForeWord Indies Women's Studies
Editorial Reviews

[Violence Against Indigenous Women] broadens how one sees and values Indigenous women, and it furthers personal consideration and propels actions as allies to avoid leaving the issue in the hands of institutions and governments. The lessons here will be most profound for non-Indigenous peoples. Summing Up: Highly recommended.


Alison Hargreaves's book emerges in a timely moment when the questions of public remembrance, knowledge making, and justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women are circulating intensely.

[...] [Violence Against Indigenous Women] is about how we refuse to disappear the missing and murdered Indigenous women yet again in our narrative and listening practices, nothing less than how we might remember better, and remember with more care.

— NAIS: The Journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association 6:1 (2019)

Violence against Indigenous Women offers an in-depth look at the rhetorical relationship between federal policy, Indigenous literature, and community activism. Hargreaves draws on several case studies to discuss issues of mis- and underrepresentation, the decontextualizing of Indigenous narratives, and the resistance power of storytelling. This book would make a meaningful contribution to discussions of Indigenous rights, rhetorical power, feminist activism, gendered violence, and colonialism.

— Resources for Gender and Women's Studies

"Hargreaves ... examines how stories of individual tragedies have been memorialized in venues such as human rights reports, poems, films, and plays. She convincingly explains that statistics and research projects produced with the best intentions may serve to reinforce the very colonial power dynamics that prevent the emergence of transformative solutions in the struggle to end violence against Indigenous women. ... For those in the field of comparative narrative criticism, it’s a work sure to inspire much discussion, debate, and reflection."

— Publisher's Weekly

“This book makes an important – indeed, urgent – contribution to knowledge about violence against Indigenous women that ought to become required reading for politicians, activists, policy-makers, scholars, writers, and artists engaged in responding to this ongoing crisis.”

— Amber Dean, McMaster University, author of Remembering Vancouver’s Disappeared Women: Settler Colonialism and the Difficulty of Inheritance
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