Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Re-presenting Genocide: The Canadian Museum of Human Rights and Settler Colonial Power

  • Rita Kaur Dhamoon (a1)
Abstract

In settler societies like Canada, United States, and Australia, the bourgeoning discourse that frames colonial violence against Indigenous people as genocide has been controversial, specifically because there is much debate about the meaning and applicability of genocide. Through an analysis of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, this paper analyzes what is revealed about settler colonialism in the nexus of difficult knowledge, curatorial decisions, and political debates about the label of genocide. I specifically examine competing definitions of genocide, the primacy of the Holocaust, the regulatory role of the settler state, and the limits of a human rights framework. My argument is that genocide debates related to Indigenous experiences operationalize a range of governing techniques that extend settler colonialism, even as Indigenous peoples confront existing hegemonies. These techniques include: interpretative denial; promoting an Oppression Olympics and a politics of distancing; regulating difference through state-based recognition and interference; and depoliticizing claims that overshadow continuing practices of assimilation, extermination, criminalization, containment, and forced movement of Indigenous peoples. By pinpointing these techniques, this paper seeks to build on Indigenous critiques of colonialism, challenge settler national narratives of peaceful and lawful origins, and foster ways to build more just relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Rita Kaur Dhamoon, PhD, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada. E-mail: dhamoonr@uvic.ca
References
Hide All
Alfred, Taiaiake. 2001. “Deconstructing the British Columbia Treaty Process.” Balayi: Culture, Law and Colonialism 3: 3765.
Altamirano-Jimenez, Isabel. 2013. Indigenous Encounters with Neo-liberalism: Place, Women, and the Environment in Canada and Mexico. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Andersen, Chris. 2014. Metis: Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Barta, Tony. 2008. “After the Holocaust: Consciousness of Genocide in Australia.” Australian Journal of Politics and History 31 (1): 154–61.
Basen, Ira. 2011. “Memory becomes a Minefield at Canada's Museum for Human Rights.” Globe & Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/memory-becomes-a-minefield-at-canadas-museum-for-human-rights/article555660/?page=all (Accessed August 20, 2011).
Benvenuto, Jeff, Woolford, Andrew, and Hinton, Alexander Laban. 2014. “Introduction.” In Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America, eds. Woolford, Andrew, Benvenuto, Jeff, and Hinton, Alexander Laban. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1–25.
Bloxham, Donald. 2008. “Organized Mass Murder: Structure, Participation, and Motivation in Comparative Perspective.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 22 (2): 203–45.
Bonnel, Jennifer and Roger, Simon. 2007. “Difficult Exhibitions and Intimate Encounters.” Museum and Society 5 (2): 6585.
CAC. 2010. Content Advisory Committee Final Report to the CMHR. Winnipeg: Canadian Museum for Human Rights. http://www.humanrightsmuseum.ca/
CBC. 2014. Shoal Lake 40 ‘Human Rights Violation Museum Highlights water problems. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/shoal-lake-40-human-rights-violations-museum-highlights-water-problems-1.2769067
Charny, Israel W. 2001. “The Psychological Satisfaction of Denials of the Holocaust or Other Genocides by Non-Extremists or Bigots.” Idea: A Journal of Social Issues 6 (1).
Chrisjohn, Roland, and Young, Sherri. 1997. The Circle Game: Shadows and Substance in the Indian Residential School Experience in Canada. Penticton: B.C. Theytus Books.
Churchill, Ward. 1997. A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1942 to the Present. San Francisco: City Lights Books.
Clearsky, Chief Murray. 2013. “Canada Sanitizing First Nations Genocide.” Censored News. http://bsnorrell.blogspot.ca/2013/08/chief-clearsky-canada-sanitizing-first.html (Accessed August 1, 2013).
CMHR. 2014a. “Mandate and Museum Experience.” Canadian Museum for Human Rights. http://humanrights.ca/about-museum/mandate-andmuseumexperience#.U7737uhX79A
CMHR. 2014b. “Indigenous Galleries.” Canadian Museum for Human Rights. https://humanrights.ca/exhibit/indigenous-perspectives
CMHR Annual Public Meeting. 2011, 2012. “Annual Public Meetings.” Canadian Museum for Human Rights. http://humanrights.ca/about-museum/corporate-governance/corporate-reports/annual-public-meetings
Corrado, R. R. 2014. “Policy Issues Regarding the Overrepresentation of Incarcerated Aboriginal Young Offenders in a Canadian Context.” Youth Justice 14 (1): 4062.
Crosby, Andrew, and Jeffrey, Monaghan. 2012. “Settler Governmentality in Canada and the Algonquin.” Security Dialogue 43 (5): 421–38.
Coulthard, Glen. 2014. Red Skins, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis, MI: University of Minnesota Press.
Fontaine, Phil, Dan, Michael, and Farber, Bernie M.. 2013. “A Canadian Genocide in Search of a Name.” Toronto Star. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/07/19/a_canadian_genocide_in_search_of_a_name.html#
Foucault, Michel. 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1979, Edited by Gordon, Colin. New York and London: Random House.
Friends of the CMHR. 2014. “Our Donors,” http://friendsofcmhr.com/category/our-donors/
Hankivsky, Olena, and Dhamoon, Rita Kaur. 2013. “Which Genocide Matters the Most? An Intersectionality Analysis of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 46 (4): 899920.
Hinton, Alexander. 2012. “Critical Genocide Studies.” Genocide Studies & Prevention 7 (1): 415.
Hinton, Alexander Laban, and Thomas, La Pointe, and Douglas, Irvin-Erickson, eds. 2013. Hidden Genocides: Power, Knowledge, Memory. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Hubbard, Tasha. 2014. “Buffalo Genocide in 19th Century North America: ‘Kill, Skin, Sell’.” In Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America, eds. Woolford, Andrew, Benvenuto, Jeff, and Hinton, Alexander Laban. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 292305.
Huttenbach, H. R. 1988. “Locating the Holocaust on the Genocide Spectrum: Towards a Methodology of Definition and Categorization.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 3 (3): 389403.
Jacobs, Beverley, and Williams, A.. 2008. “Legacy of Residential Schools: Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women.” In From Truth to Reconciliation: Transforming the Legacy of Residential Schools, eds. Castellano, Marlene. B., Archibald, Linda and DeGagne, Mike. Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 119–40.
Jacobs, Margaret D. 2014. “The Habit of Elimination: Indigenous Child Removal in Settler Colonial Nations.” In Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America, eds. Woolford, Andrew, Benvenuto, Jeff, and Hinton, Alexander Laban. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 189207.
Joseph, Robert Andrew. 2008. “A Jade Door: Reconciliatory Justice as a Way Forward Citing New Zealand Experience.” In From Truth to Reconciliation: Transforming the Legacy of Residential Schools, eds. Castellano, M. B., Archibald, Linda, and DeGagne, Mike. Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 205–31.
Krebbs, Mike. 2013. Roundtable on “Rioting the Right: Examining the Mobilizations of White Settler Colonialisms.” Critical Ethnic Studies Conference, Illinois, 19 September.
Kulchyski, Peter. 2013. Aboriginal Rights are not Human Rights: In Defence of Indigenous Struggles. Manitoba: ARP Books.
Lawrence, Bonita. 2002. “Rewriting Histories of the Land: Colonization and Indigenous Resistance in Eastern Canada.” In Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, eds. Razack, Sherene. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2146.
Lehrer, Erica, and Milton, Cynthia E.. 2011. “Introduction: Witnesses to Witnessing.” In Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places, eds. Lehrer, Erica, Milton, Cynthia E., and Patterson, Monica Eileen. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 122.
Lehrer, Erica, Milton, Cynthia E., and Patterson, Monica Eileen. 2011. Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places. Houndmills, UK Palgrave Macmillan.
MacDonald, David. B. 2003. “Daring to Compare: The Debate about a Maori ‘Holocaust’ in New Zealand.” Journal of Genocide Research 5 (3): 383403.
MacDonald, David B., and Graham, Hudson. 2013. “The Genocide Question and Indian Residential Schools in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 45 (2): 427–49.
Mako, Shamiran. 2012. “Cultural Genocide and Key International Instruments: Framing the Indigenous Experience.” International Journal of Minority & Group Rights 19: 175–94.
Meister, Robert. 2010. After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights. New York: Columbia University Press.
Miller, J. R. 1996. Shingwauk's Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Moses, A. Dirk (ed). 2004. Genocide and Settler Society: Frontier and Stolen Indigenous Children in Australian History. New York: Berghahn Books.
Moses, A. Dirk. 2011. “Revisiting a Founding Assumption of Genocide Studies.” Genocide Studies and Prevention 6 (3): 287300.
Moses, A. Dirk. 2012. “The Canadian Museum for Human Rights: the ‘Uniqueness of the Holocaust’ and the Question of Genocide.” Journal of Genocide Research 14 (2): 215–38.
Moses, A. Dirk. 2013a. “Does the Holocaust Reveal or Conceal Other Genocides?: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Grievable Suffering.” In Hidden Genocides: Power, Knowledge, Memory, eds. Hinton, Alexander Laban, La Pointe, Thomas, and Irvin-Erickson, Douglas. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2151.
Moses, A. Dirk. 2013b. “Genocide.” Australian Humanities Review 55: 2344.
Moshman, David. 2007. “Us and Them: Identity and Genocide.” Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research 7 (2): 115–35.
Murdocca, Carmela. 2010. “There is Something in that Water: Race, Nationalism, and Legal Violence.” Law & Social Inquiry 35 (2): 369402.
Murray, Stuart. 2013. “Use of ‘Genocide’ in Relation to Treatment of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.” CMHR. http://museumforhumanrights.ca/about-museum/news/statement-president-and-ceo-use-genocide-relation-treatment-indigenous-peoples#.U8GryehX79B (Accessed July 26, 2013)
Neu, Dean, and Richard, Therrien. 2003. Accounting for Genocide: Canada's Bureaucratic Assault on Aboriginal People. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.
Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, Steve Kanters, Eric Druyts, Kabirraaj Toor, Katherine A. Muldoon, Farquhar, John W., and Mills, Edward. 2014. “Years of Life Lost to Incarceration: Inequities Between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Canadians.” BMC Public Health 14: 585.
Paul, Alexandra. 2013. “Donations won't sway content, says CMHR: Can't buy ‘genocide’ label, chiefs told.” Winnipeg Free Press. http://www.firstperspective.ca/index.php/news/1157-donations-won-t-sway-content-cmhr-declares#!/ccomment
Pitt, Alice, and Britzman, Deborah. 2003. “Speculations on Qualities of Difficult Knowledge in Teaching and Learning: An Experiment in Psychoanalytic Research.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 16 (6): 755–76.
Radia, Andy. 2013. “New Museum Slammed for Not Using the Term ‘Genocide’ to Describe Aboriginal Relations Exhibit.” Yahoo News. https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/museum-slammed-not-using-term-genocide-describe-aboriginal-210802328.html
Razack, Sherene. 2012. “Memorializing Colonial Power: The Death of Frank Paul.” Law and Social Inquiry 37 (4): 908–32.
Rifkin, Mark. 2013. “Settler Common Sense.” Settler Colonial Studies 3 (3–4): 322–40.
Samson, Colin. 2014. “Dispossession and Canadian Land Claims.” In Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America, eds. Woolford, Andrew, Benvenuto, Jeff, and Hinton, Alexander Laban. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 246–70.
Short, Damien. 2010. “Australia: A Continuing Genocide?Journal of Genocide Research 12 (1–2): 4568.
Simon, Roger I. 2011. “A Shock to Thought: Curatorial Judgment and the Public Exhibition of ‘Difficult Knowledge.” Memory Studies 4 (4): 432–49.
Stannard, D. E. 1998. “Uniqueness as Denial: the Politics of Genocide Scholarship.” In Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives on Comparative Genocide, eds. Rosenbaum, A. S.. Boulder, CO: Westview, 248–61.
Stote, Karen. 2012. “The Coercive Sterilization of Aboriginal Women in Canada.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 36 (3): 117–50.
Tatz, Colin. 1999. “Genocide in Australia.” Journal of Genocide Research 1 (3): 315–52.
TRC. 2015. Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Winnipeg: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
UCC. 2008. “Holodomor Recognized as Genocide by Canadian Parliament.” Ukrainian Canadian Congress. http://www.holodomorsurvivors.ca/Canadian%20Recognize/Holodomor%20recognized%20as%20genocide%20by%20Canadian%20Parliament.html
Watson, Irene. 2011. “The 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Indigenous Survival – Where to From Here?.” Griffith Law Review 20 (3): 507–14.
Welch, Mary Agnes. 2013. “CMHR Rejects ‘Genocide’ for Native Policies: Staff Decides Against Using Word in Exhibits.” Winnipeg Free Press. http://www.firstperspective.ca/index.php/news/1096-cmhr-rejects-genocide-for-native-policies.
Welch, Mary Agnes. 2014. “Tories Seek Museum Content: Want List of All Exhibits that Refer to Federal Government,” Winnipeg Free Press. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/tories-seek-museum-content-275245431.html
Wolfe, Patrick. 2006. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8 (4): 387409.
Woolford, Andrew. 2009. “Ontological Destruction: Genocide and Canadian Aboriginal Peoples.” Genocide Studies and Prevention 4 (1): 8197.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2056-6085
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-race-ethnicity-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords