“The United Nations as both Foe and Friend to Indigenous Peoples and Self-Determination” (co-authored with Sheryl Lightfoot), in The UN: Friend or Foe of Self-determination? published by E-International Relations, 2020 (www.E-IR.info) and edited by Jakob Avgustin.
Since the advent of the United Nations (UN) system, Indigenous peoples have been poorly represented, their own self-determining rights and aspirations subsumed by assertions of absolute sovereignty by settler states such as Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Settler state governments often perceive Indigenous rights as a threat to state sovereignty and thus seek to ‘domesticate’ Indigenous nations, preventing them from participating in the UN system as sovereign actors. This chapter is divided into three parts. The first explores the challenges and opportunities afforded by the UN system to Indigenous peoples, paying close attention to their exclusion from its creation, and their denial of sovereignty during the 1960s as other colonies gained independence. The second part focuses on how Indigenous peoples have gained influence internationally through the work of the International Indian Treaty Council and other organizations. The third part balances the potential of the UN for advancing Indigenous sovereignties, while also critiquing the state-centric nature of the system.
This chapter explores genocide against Indigenous peoples in what is now Canada, and the ways this topic has been tied to larger discussions of genocide and the Holocaust. Contemporary genocide claims in Canada revolve primarily around the Indian Residential Schools (IRS) system (1834-–1996). Attempts to deal with the IRS system and its aftermath led to the establishment of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) in 1991 and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada (2009-–2015). While the RCAP was set up by the federal government, the TRC was an outcome of Indigenous-led litigation to compensate for the widespread and systematic abuses endured in the IRS system. Both commissions provided a forum for Indigenous and settler peoples to discuss genocide, understood according to the standard legally binding definition in the United Nations Genocide Convention of 1948.
“Paved with Comfortable Intentions: Moving Beyond Liberal Multiculturalism and Civil Rights Frames on the Road to Transformative Reconciliation,” In Aimee Craft and Paulette Regan (Eds.), Pathways to Reconciliation (University of Manitoba Press, forthcoming 2020).
This chapter is divided into four sections. The first engages with framing theory and outlines the differences between what I see as liberal and transformative reconciliation, and their related terms: soft and hard Indigenous rights. I argue that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) views of reconciliation weave soft and hard, liberal and transformative forms of reconciliation together. However, as the second section of this chapter posits, through a critical reading of the 2016 Environics survey on settler perceptions of Indigenous peoples, most settler respondents understand reconciliation primarily in terms of liberal equality; at least this is how they responded to the survey’s understanding of reconciliation. The third and fourth sections detail some of the problems of state-controlled narratives of multicultural and civil rights—in particular their wilful forgetting of the long lineages of communities of colour in what is now Canada and their feigned ignorance of anti-Black racism. By advancing a liberal frame that does not threaten the dominance of Stephen Harper’s traditional “old stock” settler, these policies confine expressions of difference and collective rights to areas that do not threaten settler society. The same frames have been used to suppress Indigenous peoples and their sui generis rights to self-determination, and may continue to do so in the future.
“Exporting Aotearoa New Zealand’s Biculturalism: Lessons for Aboriginal-Settler Relations in Canada” in New Zealand And The World: Past, Present And Future, eds Robert Patman, Iati Iati and Balazs Kiglics (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co, 2018) pp 67-82
Canada is currently undergoing a process of reconciliation between Aboriginal peoples (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit) and settler populations. Aotearoa New Zealand is arguably ahead of Canada in terms of its bicultural relationships between Pakeha and Maori (or through a more inclusive formulation of Tangata Tiriri and Tangata Whenua). Since its creation in 1840, New Zealand has exported many things aside from wool, dairy products, and world-class rugby. One salient export has been ideational – a unique idea of biculturalism between Indigenous peoples and European settlers. While this was at first far more myth than reality providing an “illusion of superiority” amongst British settler states there are many aspects of NZ biculturalism which can act as benchmarks for helping settler Canadians articulate how reconciliation might work in practice
Nation-states around the world tend to view Indigenous nations’ claims for sovereignty and self-determination in zero-sum terms, fearing that any advancement in Indigenous peoples’ self-determination means a loss of sovereignty or territorial integrity for nation-states. This article aims to shed light on how Indigenous political actors in several countries are advancing self-determination in practice with, within, and across the borders of individual states, while navigating the international system, in assertive, maximal, innovative, and peaceful ways that do not result in a loss of nation-state sovereignty or territorial integrity. Some Indigenous peoples are entering into treaty or partnership agreements with other Indigenous groups, in conjunction with state institutions, or completely outside state purview. We examine several cases of such treaty relations and draw some conclusions about how these types of Indigenous-to-Indigenous treaty relations are enhancing and advancing Indigenous self-determination.
Keywords: Indigenous peoples, Indigenous politics, self-determination, treaties, state sovereignty, colonization, Indigenous rights, UNDRIP, plural sovereignty
Sovereignty, Indigeneity, and Biopower: The Carceral Trajectories of Canada’s Forced Removals of Indigenous Children and the Contemporary Prison System” (co-authored with my PhD student Jackie Gillis) Sites: New Series · vol. 14, No. 1 (2017) pp 35-55
For seven generations, the Canadian settler state sought to take Indigenous children from their parents and home communities, to a network of residential schools, where the goal of the state and the four main Christian churches was to destroy all that was Indigenous in these children. A key state purpose was to make Indigenous peoples disappear, along with their sovereign rights to land, language, spirituality, and governance. As this system wound down, Indigenous children were forced into foster and institutional ‘care’, a process known as the ‘60s Scoop’. These forms of child incarceration are linked to extremely high rates of Indigenous imprisonment in Canada’s settler colonial justice system. In this article we deploy Michel Foucault’s understanding of biopower to explore the history and intent behind the Indian Residential Schools (IRS) system, the 60s Scoop, and the prison system in Canada.
“Do We Need Kiwi Lessons in Biculturalism? Considering the Usefulness of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s Pākehā Identity in Re-Articulating Indigenous Settler Relations in Canada,” Canadian Journal of Political Science, Volume 49, Issue 4 (2016) pp. 643-664.
Canada is beginning to slowly embrace an ethic of Indigenous-settler biculturalism. One model of change is afforded by the development of biculturalism in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where recent Indigenous Māori mobilization has created a unique model in the Western settler world. This article explores what Canada might learn from the Kiwi experience, focusing on the key identity marker Pākehā, an internalized and contingent settler identity, using Indigenous vocabulary and reliant on a relationship with Indigenous peoples. This article gauges Pākehā’s utility in promoting biculturalism, noting both its progressive qualities and problems in its deployment, including continued inequality, political alienation, and structural discrimination. While Canada has no Pākehā analogue, terms such as “settler” are being operationalized to develop a larger agenda for reconciliation along the lines recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. However, such terms function best when channelled towards achieving positive concrete goals, rather than acting as rhetorical screens for continued inaction.
In this article, I explore the slow development of a national debate in Canada about genocide in the Indian Residential Schools, which I compare to earlier “history wars” in Australia and United States. In the first section I begin with a brief introduction to the history of the IRS system and some of its legacies, as well as attempts at redress. These include financial compensation through the 2006 IRS Settlement Agreement, an official apology, and the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which has been a nodal point for articulating claims of genocide. I follow this in section two with an analysis of the history wars in the United States and Australia over indigenous genocide, before engaging in section three with debates about genocide in Canada. Overt debates about genocide have been relatively slower in developing, in part because of the creation of a TRC, mandated with collecting the “truth” about the IRS system while similarly engaging in “reconciliation” (a contested term) with settler Canadians. While Canada’s history wars may seem slow in getting off the ground, they may have a greater effect in stimulating national awareness than in the United States and Australia because of the more sustained mandate and national presence of the TRC. However as I will later discuss, a certain inbuilt caution on the part of the TRC due to lessons learned from the US and Australia may prevent any official finding of genocide.
“Genocide in the Indian Residential Schools: Canadian History through the Lens of the UN Genocide Convention” in Andrew Woolford, Jeff Benvenuto, and Alexander Laban Hinton (eds), Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America (Duke University Press, 2014) pp. 465-493.
I begin with a brief background of the IRS system before plunging into my main discussion as to whether the system can be deemed genocide. I focus primarily on Article 2e of the UNGC, “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” Space prohibits me from engaging in any detail with the other four elements of Article 2. Death in the schools is not a major focus of this chapter, although it is clear that large numbers of children died as a result of their experiences in the IRS system. I also do not engage with recent studies of nutrition experiments in several residential schools from 1942 to 1952. I conclude with a brief discussion of what are we to do now, in Canada, if we recognize that the IRS system was genocidal. What sort of restitution and reconciliation needs to occur between Aboriginal and settler peoples, and how much will this change Canada as it is now politically constituted?
Since the 1960s, some Aboriginal theorists and political leaders have opposed aspects of Canadian multiculturalism. In part this is because multicultural policies and their promise of “tolerance” (within western institutions) and formal equality insufficiently recognize the sui generis rights of Aboriginal peoples, while similarly failing to address the continuing economic, social, and political inequalities between Aboriginal and settler populations. This article proposes working towards a “syncretic multiculturalism,” which might involve adopting a “binational” perspective, focusing on the need for partnership between Aboriginal and Shognosh peoples. Such a perspective can help the country move beyond “colonial multiculturalism” which privileges integration into dominant English and French settler societies. Prioritizing Aboriginal involvement in reshaping national institutions and identity, so that newcomers and the rest of us are integrated into Aboriginal ways of knowing and being, can play a role in repairing some of the harms done through residential schooling and other colonial policies.
“The Last Acceptable Prejudice? Anti-Americanism in US–Canada Relations,” Australasian Canadian Studies, Volume 31, Numbers 1- 2 (2013-14) pp. 29-53
Canada and the United States share one of the most complex, interdependent, and asymmetrical relationships in the Western world. This article explores to what extent anti-Americanism constitutes an aspect of Canadian national identity. This article argues that there are strong, even at times legitimate, reasons why forms of low-grade, relatively benign, anti-Americanism continue to resonate in Canadian public life. This article focuses on the presidency of George W. Bush as the recent high water mark of anti-Americanism, and is divided into three parts. The first critically engages with definitions of anti-Americanism, employing a typology used by Katzenstein and Keohane (2007). The second part presents an overview of some empirical and interpretive research on Canadian anti-Americanism. Recent manifestations of the phenomenon have been closely tied to anti-Bush sentiments and a fear of ‘deeper integration’ with the US. The third part interrogates whether anti-Americanism is in part fuelled by American attitudes and actions, and concludes that these have played an important role.
Despite recent claims by Saul (2008) that Canada’s federal and provincial systems of government, including its justice systems, have been strongly influenced by Aboriginal peoples, this article advances that any infl uence has been largely coincidental. A detailed critical appraisal of Saul’s work reveals a romanticized glossing over of Aboriginal–settler history rather than a detailed engagement with it. Taking Saul’s purported goals rather than his analysis as a starting point, this article seeks to examine ways in which provincial and federal government legislative institutions might better incorporate (some) Aboriginal conceptions of power, justice, and decision- making. In so doing it argues for a process of “syncretic democracy”, which includes symbols, ceremonies, guaranteed Aboriginal seats in existing institutions, potentially new institutions, and a much larger process of deliberation around how best to indigenize (and change) Canada’s institutions.
Special Relationships: Australia and New Zealand in the Anglo-American World David MacDonald and Brendon O’Connor in – Anglo-America and its Discontents Civilizational identities beyond West and East Edited by Peter J. Katzenstein Routledge 2012
In this chapter, we argue that the extensive range of Australia’s and New Zealand’s (NZ) foreign policy activities – including their involvement in numerous foreign wars since the Boer War – can be best explained by the special relations both nations have maintained with the broader Anglo-American world. Strong bonds of shared interests, history, culture, and other commonalities have proven durable and demonstrably influential in determining the priorities and actions of both Antipodean countries. The “imagined community” of the Anglo-American world, strengthened by regular economic, military, and diplomatic interactions, possesses significant ideational power. Such bonds have also been affected by emotional beliefs, as Mercer puts it, “a generalization about an actor that involves certainty beyond evidence.” These beliefs are expressed either as positive sentiments towards fellow members of the Anglo-American world, or as distrust of “others” like Japan, Indonesia, or China. The origin and nature of these emotional and ideational ties are key foci of our chapter. Arguably, European settlement of both countries has had a long-term impact, orienting both nations towards Britain, the USA, and other white settler societies (and to a lesser extent non-white British colonies and ex-British colonies) for most of their histories. The resulting strategic culture helps to explain the extremely close security and cultural alliances with the USA and Britain, which we will dissect in detail. Both of our case studies are clearly part of the “West,” even if that West, to echo Peter Katzenstein, is a plural and pluralist entity, often difficult to define as it is evolving and changing.
“The Genocide Question and Indian Residential Schools in Canada”, co-authored with my research assistant Graham Hudson, Canadian Journal of Political Science, Volume 45, Number 2 (2012) pp. 427–449. (responsible for two-thirds of the content including the case study section, the research questions, the framing and editing, and most of the theoretical work – Graham supplied much of the legal work)
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been investigating the array of crimes committed in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. Genocide is being invoked with increasing regularity to describe the crimes inflicted within the IRS system, the intent behind those crimes, and the legacies that have flowed from them. We ask the following questions: Did Canada commit genocide against Aboriginal peoples by attempting to forcibly assimilate them in Residential Schools? How does the UN Genocide Convention help interpret genocide claims? If not genocide, what other descriptors are more appropriate? Our position might be described as “fence sitting”: whether genocide was committed cannot be definitively settled at this time . This has to do with polyvalent interpretations of the term, coupled with the growing body of evidence the TRC is building up. We favour using the term cultural genocide as a “ground floor”, and a means to legally and morally interpret the IRS system.
“Genocide, Reconciliation, and the Residential Schools: A Survey of Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Attitudes among Elected Officials in Canada” (with Mark Mitchell), Canadian Political Science Review Volume 6, Numbers 2-3 (2012)
This article contextualizes and presents an online nationwide survey we have conducted at federal, provincial, and territorial levels across Canada. The survey is bilingual and has been supported by the SSHRC and the University of Guelph. Elected officials were approached in confidence to complete a survey concerning their attitudes towards Aboriginal history, changes in the current political system to facilitate increased Aboriginal representation, and the applicability of international law, specifically the UN Genocide Convention, to interpret Aboriginal experiences in the Indian Residential Schools. We argue that the qualitative and quantitative data we have obtained mirrors survey of the Canadian mainstream electorate in significant wars.
Materialist, structural or ideational perspectives all have their strengths in approaching the study of regions in International Relations. In this chapter, I privilege the ideational approach, and offer a conceptual overview of the nexus between ideas and power. Following Lukes (2005b), I understand power to have three dimensions, the most salient being the ability to frame reality so as to differentiate the normal from the abnormal, the moral from the immoral and the legitimate from the illegitimate. This chapter compares Lukes’ work to that of other theorists of power (Nye, Baldwi n, Laclau and Mouffe, etc.). In light of the changes in domestic and international politics since 1971, it is pertinent to ask whether the Lukesian conception of power is still applicable now. And, has it been bypassed? I explore these questions in light o f a possible ‘fourth dimension’. Implicit here is the conclusion that Foucault’s ‘Power4’ is not a distinctive fourth dimension of power, as I shall explain in due course. I focus on the ‘risk’ society thesis, as promoted by Giddens, Beck, Coker, and Rasmu ssen. In our ‘second modernity’, state leaders are now seen as ‘risk interpreters’ and ‘risk managers’, and not as wielders of power. In a global risk society, state sovereignty is precarious. A cosmopolitan morality and new forms of international organization might seem the best way forward, although Beck’s analysis, one proponent of this, is beset by problems, and his work thus does not represent a fourth face. I conclude by arguing that Lukes’ analysis can help us to properly contextualize the ‘risk society’ thesis as a form of discourse that seeks to gain hegemony as a new avenue through which power can be naturalized and exercised.
America’s Memory Problems: Diaspora Groups, Civil Society and the Perils of ‘Chosen Amnesia’” in Jing-Bao Nie, Nanyan Guo, and Arthur Kleinman (eds), Japanese Wartime Medical Atrocities: Comparative Perspectives on Science, History and Ethics (Routledge: 2010) pp. 166-182
This chapter contextualizes America’s decision to suppress knowledge of Japanese war crimes within a larger framework of atrocity denial in American history. This includes the government’s denial of its own medical and other atrocities against indigenous peoples, African- Americans. … I begin this chapter with a brief overview of Japanese atrocities, follow this with details of the cover-up, then offer some relevant context concerning America’s own crimes. I then argue that Chinese -Americans may have a chance to gain acknowledgement of their suffering at an official level. They could even gain a Congressional Bill condemning Japanese denialism, and might even gain an apology for the American cover up, amnesty for, and payment to ranking members of Unit 731. Whether this is a crucial issue around which Chinese-Americans will congregate is another matter, as there seems to be a stronger interest in mobilizing around the Nanjing massacre, as I have argued elsewhere. In any case, acknowledgement of America’s role in denying Japanese atrocities, and any potential compensation resulting from that denial, are unlikely to be forthcoming. This is doubly so in the present international climate. Contemporary ethical dilemmas like torture and permanent detention at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and the killing of civilians in US bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan, have drawn public attention in the US and globally.
This chapter covers the emergence and escalation, and secession of hostilities from 1980-2000, with particular focus on the period from 1991-1999, when civil conflict, ethnic cleansing, and genocide devastated what was once a peaceful and prosperous federal country. Serbian nationalists seemed to follow a strategy of identifying aggressors against the Serbi an nation, then taking “defensive” action against them in order to scotch perceived enemy plans to commit war crimes or genocide. This strategy was evident in Serbian relations with both the Kosovar Albanians and the Croats.
“Regionalism: New Zealand, Asia, the Pacific, and Australia” in Robert G. Patman and Chris Rudd (eds.) Sovereignty Under Siege? The Case of New Zealand (London: Ashgate Press, 2005) pp.171-192.
Sovereighty under Siege Confronting globalization is often more difficult for small countries, which have less economic, cultural, and military clout than medium-size or large countries. This chapter considers New Zealand’s relationship with Asian countries like China and Japan, Pacific Island Countries (henceforth PICs), and Australia, giving primary weight to the development of these relations since the 1970s and 80s. In all cases, New Zealand has increasingly globalized (in economic, cultural, demographic and other ways), moving from a dependent colony of Great Britain to achieve greater independence in economic, diplomatic, and military affairs. Globalization has been a two- way street. New Zealand’s economy has improved as it has reached out to the rest of the world, but the character of New Zealand identity has also changed with a rapid influx of Asian and Pacific immigrants since the 1970s. Economic interdependence has brought more prosperity and a higher standard of living, but has led to increased foreign investment and changes to the structure of New Zealand’s econ omy, including a decline in manufacturing output.
“The Fire in 1999?: The United States, NATO, and the Bombing of Yugoslavia”, in Adam Jones (ed.) Genocide, War Crimes, and the West: Ending the Culture of Impunity (London: Zed Books, 2004) pp 276–298.
Genocide War Crimes Since the end of the Cold War, the methods and objectives of American foreign policy have come under increasing scrutiny. The Gulf War would produce Ramsay Clark’s The Fire This Time, charging the United States with war crimes in Iraq. … This chapter will critically examine NATO’s 1999 air campaign against Yugoslavia, Operation Allied Force. I will argue that while the United States did not commit war crimes here, they did break numerous international laws and conventions, causing untold ‘collateral damage’ in the process. Its humanitarian goals not withstanding, NATO’s operation was found wanting on numerous counts. We can cite its haste in rushing into an under-prepared military solution, its unwillingness to endanger the lives of its own soldiers to prote ct Yugoslavia’s civilians, its use of highly questionable weaponry on civilian targets, and its seeming ignorance of the region’s specificities. This chapter will begin by looking at some of the background to NATO intervention, including their conceptions of strategy and where these went wrong. We will then examine the consequences wrought by this air campaign and examine what international laws and conventions were broken. A final part considers the question of blame, and how much should be borne by the United States. However, I will also argue that there are important mitigating factors which must be taken into consideration when analyzing Allied Force and its aftermath.
Pushing the Limits of Humanity?: Reinterpreting Animal Rights and ‘Personhood’ through the Prism of the Holocaust”, Journal of Human Rights Volume 5, Number 4 (2006) pp.417-39.
Arguably, the UN Genocide Convention is hardly perfect as a tool in protecting human rights. Some dismiss it as too narrow, whereas others attack its broadness (Katz 1994; Power 2003). Still others blame political machinations for the exclusion of cultural genocide, with its accompanying religious, linguistic, and cultural persecution (Churchill 2000; Robertson 2000: 34 – 39; Ronayne 2001: 15 – 17, 20 – 24). However, one criticism rarely voiced is that the Convention applies only to human beings. This article e xamines recent debates about an “Animal Holocaust” and its derivatives, arguing that Peter Singer’s concepts of “personhood” and “speciesism” have been mixed with imagery of the Nazi Final Solution to promote increased rights for animals. Although some “great apes” now enjoy some human rights, thanks to Singer and Paola Cavalieri’s “Great Ape Project” (1993), animals as nonhumans fall below the radar of international law. Invoking a “Holocaust of Animals” seems a possible way of highlighting animal rights in a case where the Genocide Convention will probably never apply. The Holocaust is invoked in a variety of ways. For Charles Patterson, the American industrial slaughterhouse was the crucial precedent for the industrialization of death in Nazi Germany, with farming backgrounds and meat-eating as key socializing devices for committing genocide. J.M. Coetzee, by contrast, attempts to apply Daniel Goldhagen’s “eliminationist anti – Semitism” to indict all human meat – eaters with a form of genocide. … Claiming an “Animal Holocaust” also raises questions about the “ownership” of Holocaust and how it may be compared and applied. That many activists are Jewish (even children of Holocaust survivors) adds another dimension. Also interesting is the fact that most activists seem to accept the uniqueness of the Holocaust (for humans), something other groups promoting their own “holocausts” often refuse to do. Ultimately however, campaigns to invoke an Animal Holocaust fail, ironically for the very reason activists cite as the primary cause of animal suffering. Most humans have an inability to empathize fully with nonhumans, especially if empathy implies adopting forms of latent anti-Semitism.
This article problematizes representations of Chinese victimization during World War II as a ‘Holocaust’ or ‘Forgotten Holocaust’. Literature on the Jewish Holocaust suggests that comparing other genocides to it benefits the non-Jewish group. Opinions differ as to whether Jewish history suffers, and whether such comparisons are justified. Using studies of the rape of Nanking in 1937 by Iris Chang and Chinese Diaspora groups, I argue that while using the Holocaust as a means of packaging Chinese suffering may initially stimulate interest, and help to highlight the problems of Japanese denialism, extending such parallels too far creates problems of representation. This includes distorting the roles of victimized and perpetrator nations, decontextualizing victims and events, while advancing a number of inaccurate comparisons with both Germans and Jews.
“Daring to compare: The debate about a Maori ‘holocaust’ in New Zealand”, Journal of Genocide Research (September, 2003) pp.383-404.
This article examines how New Zealand Maori have been drawn into an emerging comparative genocide debate, one where historically marginalized groups have used the Jewish Holocaust, its imagery and vocabulary as a means of articulating their own experiences of victimization, in the quest for some form of justice, restitution, and healing. I will argue that Maori activists have been strongly influenced in the recent past by North American indigenous activists (such as David Stannard and Ward Churchill), whose arguments and style have been borrowed to advance Maori interests. This follows a pattern of incorporating the protest styles and images of other marginalized groups, from North America and elsewhere. While the widespread use of “holocaust” and accusations of “holocaust” denial arguably have a role to play in the United States— where there are proven cases of genocide — the operationalization of such terminology in New Zealand (where such claims are unproven) is certainly fraught with controversy.