The Centre for Imaginative Ethnography (CIE) is pleased to announce

The Imaginative Ethnography Symposium: Ethnography, Imagination & Indigenous Settler-Relations

Curated by: Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston, Laura Levin, and Marlis Schweitzer

The symposium will include a series of guest speaker events and a workshop for graduate students held on April 6-7, 2016.

CIE Symposium

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Lee Maracle is the author of a number of critically acclaimed literary works and the co-editor of a number of anthologies including the award winning publication, My Home As I Remember. She is a member of the Sto: Loh nation. In 2009, Maracle received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from St. Thomas University. Maracle recently received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the premier’s award for excellence in the arts. Her latest works are: Celia’s song [novel], Memory Serves and other Words [creative non-fiction] and Talking to the Diaspora.

Professor Sarah King – ethnographer, environmental philosopher, and anthropologist of religion – is interested in the role that religion and culture play in shaping human relationships to the natural world. Her areas of specialization include: comparative religion; place; ethnography and community-based research; Indigenous-settler relations in North America; environmental values and conflict; food justice and sustainable agriculture; and North American environmentalism. She is the author of Fishing in Contested Waters: Place and Community in Burnt Church/Esgenoôpetitj (University of Toronto Press, 2014), and currently teachers in the Liberal Studies Department at Grand Valley State University.


Ethnography and Activism, Sarah King
April 6, 3:00-5:00pm, 305 York Lanes

This workshop, open to graduate students from across the university, will attempt to build a collaborative, critical conversation exploring the relationship between ethnography and activism. Who employs activism in the ethnographic field? Is the work of ethnography itself activism? How is research changed when collaborators or community members within the ethnographic field see academic researchers as targets for transformation? Where are there opportunities for ethnography to help build transformative communities, and when should we take them?

Performance, Indigeneity and Canada’s lack of imagination
Lee Maracle, April 6, 6:00-7:30pm, 305 York Lanes

Storytelling and Activism: the role of imagination in transforming
Indigenous-Settler relationships
April 7, 10:00-11:30 am, 305 York Lanes

This roundtable will include keynote speakers Lee Maracle and Sarah King, as well as Martha Stiegman (Faculty of Environmental Studies, York), Megan Davies (Graduate Program in Theatre & Performance Studies, York), Deborah McGregor (Osgoode Hall Law School, York), and Naomi Adelson (Anthropology, York). Roundtable participants will share stories about the role of imagination in transforming Indigenous-settler relationships. The roundtable chair, Sarah King, will offer follow-up questions, and facilitate a dialogue between the presenters and the audience.

Contesting Place, Constructing Activism: examining the dispute at Burnt
Church/Esgenoopetitj NB, Sarah King
April 7, 3:00-4:30pm, 305 York Lanes

After the Supreme Court’s 1999 Marshall decision upholding Mi’kmaq fishery rights, a prolonged violent conflict broke out over indigenous fisheries at Burnt Church/Esgenoôpetitj NB. The inability of the Canadian public (writ large) to attend to the values and concerns that motivate those involved in the dispute inflamed and prolonged the violence. This presentation explores some of the activist strategies employed by dispute participants to draw attention to their values and concerns, the stories that local people tell about these strategies, and the ways that they make sense of their experiences now that the conflict is over. Paying attention to the complexity of disputes such as the one in Burnt Church is itself a critical strategy in resisting the ‘whitewashing’ of Canadian identity and politics.

All lectures are free and open to the public. The workshop is full. If you want to have your name placed on the waiting list, or for more information on the symposium, please email Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston at

Special thanks to our sponsors: Theatre and Performance Studies Graduate Program, Performance Studies (Canada) Speaker Series; Department of Theatre; Dean of Arts, Media, Performance, and Design (AMPD); Department of Anthropology; and Office of the Vice-Provost Academic.