Call for Chapters: “Settler Colonialism and the Urban Prairie West”; Editors: David Hugill (Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies, University of Winnipeg), Tyler McCreary (Department of Geography, University of British Columbia)


Call for Chapters – Settler Colonialism and the Urban Prairie West

Editors: David Hugill (Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies, University of Winnipeg), Tyler McCreary (Department of Geography, University of British Columbia

The rapid urbanization of North American Indigenous populations over the last half century has been accompanied by a proliferation of urban Indigenous organizing and an expansion of Indigenous marginalization. We contend that making sense of these transformations demands the development of a relational theory of settler-colonial urbanism, as shaped by the intersection of distinct forms of social, political, and economic struggle. While a number of theorists have made key contributions to the elaboration of a theory of settler-colonization, their engagement with urban political economy remains comparatively limited. Conversely, while practitioners of urban political economy have elaborated key insights into the racialized production of urban space, their engagement with the constitutive importance of settler-colonial pasts and presents has been muted at best. In an effort to address these gaps in a focused manner, we seek contributions to an edited collection that will hone in on the complex entanglement of processes of settler-colonization with the political-economic dimensions of urbanization in the cities of a particular region, the Northern Plains of North America.

Our regional focus serves a dual purpose: providing a regional context to frame discussion and using that regional frame to elucidate a theory of settler-colonial urbanism. We take seriously Cole Harris’ suggestion that studies of colonialism are at their best when they are grounded in the “actuality and materiality” of specific colonial experience. Moreover, we believe that the cities of the Northern Plains present an exemplary starting point for a comparative study that seeks to elaborate and extend existing work on settler-colonial urbanism. While places like Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Saskatoon, Rapid City, Edmonton, Billings, Regina, and Grand Forks, among others, have sometimes been denigrated as ‘ordinary’ or banal in the broader urban literature, they are also places where urban Indigenous marginalization has been most acute and urban Indigenous political organizing has been most robust. As such, they present extraordinary opportunities to think critically about the normalized entanglements of coloniality, urbanity, and Indigeneity, in both contemporary and historical registers.

Our inquiry starts from the premise that understanding the political economy of Northern Plains cities requires that we extend our analyses beyond a focus on particular events in order to think critically about how colonially-inflected legacies, material distributions, and knowledge practices have structured collective life. To this end, we invite chapter-length submissions that seek to productively engage with settler-colonial urbanism in the context of one or more Northern Plains cities.

We are particularly interested in contributions that ground theoretical questions in one of the following themes:

  • The settler-colonial history of particular urban environments
  • The production of urban spaces of racialized (Indigenous) concentration
  • Contested lands, urban reserves, and Indigenous claims to the city
  • Urban Indigenous political work, organization-building, networks of mutual aid
  • Violence against Indigenous women
  • Urban Indigenous women’s organizing and feminist responses to settler-colonization
  • Postwar urban policy (including suburbanization, urban renewal, inner-city decline)
  • Racialized policing and responses to police violence
  • Work and labour-market exclusion
  • Informal economies and illicit work
  • Finance, debt, mortgage markets
  • Social services and state surveillance
  • Indigenous community development strategies
  • Struggles over urban education
  • Housing discrimination and slum landlordism
  • Neoliberal urbanism, urban development, gentrification, revanchism

Those interested in contributing should submit an abstract (250-400 words) to the editors by Monday November 16th, 2015 and expect to hear back from us within four weeks. First drafts must be submitted by Friday April 29, 2016. We are planning to host a workshop for contributors in Winnipeg, Manitoba in late May 2016. Arrangements will be made to include those that cannot attend in person. We intend to submit the complete manuscript to the University of Manitoba Press for peer-review in August 2016.

David Hugill (, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies, University of Winnipeg.

Tyler McCreary (, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia.

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