(Re)Framing Resistance: The Role of Indigenous Comic Books in the Past, Present, and Future

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Paparousis, Lauren
Indigenous Comics , Visual Sovereignty , Gord Hill , Chelsea Vowel , David Alexander Robertson
As Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith has described, “the collective memory of imperialism has been perpetrated through the ways knowledge about Indigenous peoples was collected, classified and then represented in various ways back to the West, and then, through the eyes of the West back to those who have been colonized.” This research project will therefore take an interdisciplinary approach to understand how comics books have become a medium of Indigenous resistance to and a remediation of popular media such as comics which often perpetrate racialized stereotypes as the dominant representation of indigeneity. Furthermore, this research will consider how the reclamation of the comic medium by Indigenous artists can thus be viewed as an expression of “visual sovereignty” by, not only speaking back to settler representations, but also strengthening Indigenous sovereignty by advocating for Indigenous cultural and political power. This research will primarily focus on three texts — The 500 Years of Resistance Comic by Gord Hill, Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story by David Alexander Robertson, and kitaskinaw 2350 by Chelsea Vowel — and consider how each of them enact visual sovereignty.
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