Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, McGill University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2016
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Columbia University
Young Indigenous Men and Gangs: Landscapes of Violence and Fear in and between Winnipeg and Norway House Cree Nation

This dissertation project is an ethnographic exploration of the ways that violence is made to be socially and historically intelligible. This project focuses specifically on the ways violence of young Indigenous men and their gangs in Winnipeg and Norway House, Manitoba, are recognized, and how this recognition informs broader processes of legitimation and normalization, or resistance, to violence. As these locations are linked by a distinct history of colonial violence, I ask how young Indigenous men are reformulating and re- signifying the material, symbolic, and ideological materials left to them in this landscape of dispossession via gang sociality, and how both they and the Canadian state recognize this landscape of violence. By working with youth in key health, justice, and anti-gang institutions, I examine the experiences of young Indigenous men as well as the views of front-line workers in these institutions, asking what are the different frameworks by which violence of young Indigenous men is understood? Putting this work into dialogue with the growing public and sympathetic discourse that is fighting the violence toward Indigenous women in Canada, I hypothesize that we can observe a discursive sphere in which Indigenous bodies are interpreted on a spectrum of suffering subjects or as violent perpetrators, either deserving of care and sympathy or violence and apathy. I am interested, therefore, in how this discursive sphere informs the mode of intelligibility of certain violence within specific parameters – such as disgust or fear of gang violence, on the one hand, or the sympathy for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, on the other – while making others completely obscure, such as structural and colonial violence of the state. By working with young Indigenous men I will analyze how they reckon with these discourses in daily life and how their relationship to these discourses informs their identities and broader social dynamics within gangs.