Reproducing settler colonial systems of oppression: Miranda Sophia Leibel, Reproductive Narratives: Settler-Colonialism and Neoliberalism in Alberta’s Child Welfare System, MA dissertation, University of Alberta, 2017


Abstract: This thesis examines the contemporary crisis of Indigenous children in child welfare services in Canada, taking as its case study the Province of Alberta. I take a historical approach to this analysis, and consider the contemporary institutions that govern and manage Indigenous bodies through welfare services and their continuity in relation to historical iterations of child apprehension and intervention. For the purposes of this thesis, one historical iteration is highlighted in-depth: the residential school system. This comparison is made by presenting a document analysis of both the residential school system, and the child welfare system and considers the ways the systems are interconnected. This thesis notes that the two are connected not only institutionally, but also through the governance of bodies, families and precarity through rendering Indigenous children’s lives ‘ungrievable.’ I further argue that the influence of neoliberal political rationalities has created important distinctions between the two institutions. Rather than arguing that neoliberalism is entirely distinct and separate from settler-colonialism, however, my thesis treats them as intersecting systems of oppression that create the unique circumstances we see today in Alberta’s child welfare system. In addition to considering these continuities, this thesis also highlights the activism and agency of Indigenous women, highlighting the role of Indigenous mothering as resurgence and sovereignty.

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