The visual discourse of reconciliation: Lara Elise Corinne Fullenwieder, Unsettling Histories: Representation and Indigenous Creative Art Praxis in Official Indian Residential School Redress, PhD dissertation, Queen’s University, 2016


Abstract: This dissertation offers an investigation of the role of visual strategies, art, and representation in reconciling Indian Residential School history in Canada. This research builds upon theories of biopolitics, settler colonialism, and race to examine the project of redress and reconciliation as nation and identity building strategies engaged in the ongoing structural invasion of settler colonialism. It considers the key policy moments and expressions of the federal government—from RCAP to the IRSSA and subsequent apology—as well as the visual discourse of reconciliation as it works through archival photography, institutional branding, and commissioned works. These articulations are read alongside the creative and critical work of Indigenous artists and knowledge producers working within and outside of hegemonic structures on the topics of Indian Residential School history and redress. In particular the works of Jeff Thomas, Adrian Stimson, Krista Belle Stewart, Christi Belcourt, Luke Marston, Peter Morin, and Carey Newman are discussed in this dissertation. These works must be understood in relationship to the normative discourse of reconciliation as a legitimizing mechanism of settler colonial hegemony. Beyond the binary of cooptation and autonomous resistance, these works demonstrate the complexity of representing Indigeneity: as an ongoing site of settler colonial encounter and simultaneously the forum for the willful refusal of contingency or containment.

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