Call for Papers | The Politics of the Canoe: Activism and Resistance | Winnipeg, MB, June 8–10, 2018. Call ends December 15, 2017

The canoe holds a number of different meanings within North American discourses. Popularly thought of as a recreational vehicle, one of the key ingredients to an ideal wilderness getaway (Benidickson, 1997), it is also a potent symbol and practice of Indigenous culture and traditions (Cole, 2006; Johansen, 2012; Sioui & McLeman, 2014; Willow 2010). The canoe also has become a mode of asserting conservation ideals (Baldwin, 2004), feminist- based empowerment (McDermott, 2004), citizenship practices (Dean, 2006) and multicultural goals (Griffin, 2017). Beyond its material use, the deployment of the canoe in art, poetry, fiction and beyond has had an even broader set of meanings (Honeyford, 2015; Dean 2013).  The canoe, it seems, is not merely a matter of leisure and pleasure, but a vehicle that is folded into political life through and through.  Even its place as a recreational vehicle, as Dean (2013) and Erickson (2013) have both illustrated, is infused with colonial, gendered and class politics.

We are seeking contributions to a workshop that will examine the political life of the canoe in all of its diverse forms. Participants will be invited to address the ways in which the canoe has been mobilized as a vehicle of power and resistance within the long history of colonialism in North America.  While much critical scholarship on the canoe has offered a critique of its hegemonic position, we also hope to highlight how the canoe has been used to resist and redraw relationships of power. Drawing on the popularity of the canoe, this workshop hopes to bring critical conversations on national identity, colonialism, environmentalism, diversity and activism into a broad public discourse.  As such, we are looking for contributions that provide an accessible yet critical lens on the political life of the canoe. We are particularly interested in having contributions or partnerships with community groups that are mobilizing the canoe in progressive ways.

Topics include, but not limited to:

  • Reconciliation and the canoe
  • Indigenous resistance through the canoe
  • Gender, canoes and the reshaping of gender norms
  • Conservation and the canoe
  • Nationalism and anti-nationalism in the canoe
  • Canoes in art, literature and poetry
  • Blockades, mass gatherings and activism in the canoe
  • Histories of resistance
  • Canoe building, colonialism and traditional knowledge
  • Industry, capitalism and canoeing practices
  • Canada 150, colonialism and canoes
  • Tribal journeys, youth and community development
  • Conservation canoe trips
  • Ecotourism
  • Well-being, health and community

Send a title, abstract (300 words) and brief bio (250 words) to Bruce Erickson ( and Sarah Krotz ( by December 15th, 2017. The workshop will take place on June 8-10th in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The University of Manitoba is located on Treaty 1 territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis nation.

Reference List

Baldwin, A. (2004). An ethics of connection: social-nature in Canada’s boreal forest. Ethics, Place and Environment, 7(3), 185-194.
Benidickson, J. (1997). Idleness, water, and a canoe: Reflections on paddling for pleasure. University of Toronto Press.
Cole, P. (2006). Coyote and Raven go canoeing: Coming home to the village (Vol. 42). McGill-Queen’s Press- MQUP.
Dean, M. (2006). The Centennial Voyageur Canoe Pageant as Historical Re-enactment. Journal of Canadian studies, 40(3), 43-67.
Dean, M. (2012). Inheriting a canoe paddle: the canoe in discourses of English-Canadian nationalism. University of Toronto Press.
Griffin, H. (2017). Canoeing into Canadian Life. in-toronto-ontario
Johansen, B. (2012). Canoe journeys and cultural revival. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 36(2), 131-142.
McDermott, L. (2004). Exploring intersections of physicality and female-only canoeing experiences. Leisure Studies, 23(3), 283-301.
Sioui, M., & McLeman, R. (2014). Asserting mino pimàdiziwin on unceded Algonquin territory: Experiences of a Canadian “non-status” First Nation in re-establishing its traditional land ethic. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 10(4), 354-375.
Willow, A. J. (2010). Cultivating common ground: Cultural revitalization in Anishinaabe and Anthropological discourse. The American Indian Quarterly, 34(1), 33-60.


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