Roads, Mobility, and Violence in Indigenous Literature and Art from North America  book cover
1st Edition

Roads, Mobility, and Violence in Indigenous Literature and Art from North America

ISBN 9780367663087
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
178 Pages

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Book Description

Roads, Mobility, and Violence in Indigenous Literature and Art from North America explores mobility, spatialized violence, and geographies of activism in a diverse archive of literary and visual art by Indigenous authors and artists. Building on Raymond Williams’s observation that "traffic is not only a technique; it is a form of consciousness and a form of social relations," this book pulls into focus racial, sexual, and environmental violence localized around roads. Reading this archive of texts next to lived struggles over spatial justice, Rymhs argues that roads are spaces of complex signification. For many Indigenous communities, the road has not often been so open. Recent Indigenous writing and visual art explores this tension between mobility and confinement. Drawing primarily on the work of Marie Clements, Tomson Highway, Marilyn Dumont, Leanne Simpson, Richard Van Camp, Kent Monkman, and Louise Erdrich, this volume examines histories of uprooting and violence associated with roads. Along with exploring these fraught histories of mobility, this book emphasizes various ways in which Indigenous communities have transformed roads into sites of political resistance and social memory.

Table of Contents


1. Mobility and its Disenchantments in Marie Clements’ The Unnatural and

Accidental Women and Burning Vision

2. Idling No More: The Road in Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters

3. Gridlock: Mobility and Subjection in Marilyn Dumont’s Vancouver Poems

4. "the road is its own humiliation": Leanne Simpson’s "Road Salt," "Leaks,"

"ishpadinaa," and "How to Steal a Canoe"

5. "I wanted the highway": Richard Van Camp’s "Dogrib Midnight Runners"

6. Kent Monkman’s The Big Four as Automobiography

7. Across Borders: Louise Erdrich’s Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country




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Deena Rymhs (Ph.D. Queen’s University, 2004) is an associate professor of English at the University of British Columbia. She is author of From the Iron House: Imprisonment in First Nations Writing (2008) along with numerous published essays on Indigenous literature, Indigenous visual art, and ecocriticism. Her research has been funded by two national SSHRC grants, and she was awarded a Sproul Fellowship at University of California, Berkeley in 2016-17.