Department of Philosophy



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The Department of Philosophy and the Cultural Studies Program present

Toby Rollo (University of Alberta) 

"Discipline and Dispossession: Understanding Canadian Carceral Colonialism"

FRIDAY, March 3rd  2017

Mac Corry Hall, Room B125 (in the B176 suite of offices) @ 10:30 am.

All modern nation-states utilize prisons but the role played by incarceration varies widely between particular national cultures and states. In the Canadian context, the prison system is an outgrowth of settler colonial nation-building on Indigenous land. Historically, because Aboriginal women and children represented the central figures of Indigenous cultural reproduction, they have also been the primary targets of settler colonial dispossession. The legacy of discipline and dispossession in Canada includes the establishment of the Indian Act, Indian Residential Schools, as well as policing and prison systems. Assessing our distinct colonial-carceral system requires an understanding of both the contemporary Constitutional landscape of Canada-Indigenous politics as well as the historical philosophical and cultural interpretations of Indigenous peoples. In this talk, I will introduce the unique formation of the colonial-carceral state in Canada. I will then move to an analysis of how early-modern philosophical ideals, beginning with the social contract tradition, developed to explain colonial dispossession and criminalization of Indigenous women and children. I will then conclude with a discussion of how the cultural constructions of black and Indigenous peoples in Canada give rise to a distinct form of abolitionist critique, one that is inextricably linked to decolonization and the revitalization of Indigenous legal and political autonomy.


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