Queen's University

Dr. Sam McKegney

Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature
HUMANITIES, LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE, INDIGENOUS STUDIES, SEX AND GENDER

Autobiography

I am a settler scholar of Indigenous literary art. I grew up in a settler community situated within Anishinaabe territory on the Saugeen Peninsula, and I have lived the majority of my adult life in the lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples in Kingston, Ontario, where I work as an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Queen’s University, the institution from which I received both my Master’s and Doctoral degrees. My research seeks to register the ways in which Indigenous literary artists: (1) interrogate ongoing settler colonialism and the violent history upon which it is based, (2) use artistic means of expression to imagine modes of sociality and Indigenous persistence that exceed the confines of the settler colonial nation state, and (3) mobilize the expressive arts to provoke extra-textual responses from Indigenous, settler, and diasporic readers that might contribute to projects of decolonization. My hope is that my research can in small ways serve to catalyze the visionary interventions of Indigenous writers and artists. I have published on such topics as residential school survival narratives, environmental kinship, masculinity theory, prison writing, Indigenous governance, discourses of reconciliation, and Canadian hockey mythologies. I am a founding member of, and have served as President for, the Indigenous Literary Studies Association—a scholarly group dedicated to honouring the history and promoting the ongoing production of Indigenous literatures in lands claimed by Canada, and to advancing the ethical study and teaching of those literatures.

My first book-length study, published by University of Manitoba Press in November 2007 and entitled Magic Weapons: Aboriginal Writers Remaking Community After Residential School, examines the manifold ways in which Indigenous survivors of residential schooling mobilize narrative in their struggles toward personal and cultural empowerment in the shadow of an assimilationist legacy. The book’s Foreword was written by the late Anishinaabe Elder, language teacher, and renowned author Basil Johnston. My subsequent work Masculindians: Conversations about Indigenous Manhood (UMP 2014) offers the first book-length study of Indigenous masculinities and the arts on Turtle Island; in it I assemble twenty-two interviews I conducted with leading Indigenous artists, activists, academics, and Elders. My work in Indigenous masculinities studies also includes the award-winning article “‘Pain, pleasure, shame. Shame.’: Masculine Embodiment, Kinship, and Indigenous Reterritorialization,” published in Canadian Literature 216 (Spring 2013), and an upcoming critical monograph tentatively titled Carrying the Burden of Peace: Indigenous Masculinities and Story. Another ongoing project, entitled “Decolonizing Sport: Indigeneity, Hockey, and Canadian Nationalism,” analyzes the cultural role of ice hockey in the naturalization of the settler Canadian nation state and the simultaneous mobilization of the sport as a vehicle for libratory self-expression and community building by Indigenous players, coaches, and fans. The phrase “decolonizing sport” is employed here in two senses: the first pertains to the need for hockey to be decolonized, given its colonialist baggage and its frequent saturation with racist, sexist, and homophobic iconography and discourse; the second pertains to the capacity for the sport to itself be exercised in ways that serve the cause of Indigenous resurgence.

Most Recent Project

Masculindians: Conversations about Indigenous Masculinities

What does it mean to be an Masculindians CoverIndigenous man today? Between October 2010 and May 2013, I conducted interviews with leading Indigenous artists, critics, activists, and elders on the subject of Indigenous manhood. In offices, kitchens, and coffee shops, and once in a car driving down the 401, we tackled crucial questions about masculine self-worth and how to foster balanced and empowered gender relations. Masculindians captures twenty-two of these conversations in a volume that is intensely personal, yet speaks across generations, geography, and gender boundaries.

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Other Projects

  • "pain, pleasure, shame. Shame.": Masculine Embodiment, Kinship, and Indigenous Reterritorialization

    In this paper, I argue that the gender segregation, the derogation of the feminine, and the shaming of the body that occurred systematically within residential schools were not merely by-products of Euro-Christian patriarchy, but rather served—and serve—the goal of colonial dispossession by troubling lived experiences of territory and effacing kinship relations that constitute modes of Indigenous governance. In this paper, I therefore ask: If the coordinated assaults on Indigenous embodiment and on Indigenous cosmologies of gender are not just two among several interchangeable tools of colonial dispossession but are in fact integral to the Canadian colonial project, can embodied actions that self-consciously reintegrate gender complementarity be mobilized to foment not simply ‘healing’ but the radical reterritorialization and sovereignty that will make meaningful ‘reconciliation’ possible? I pursue this question through the study of autobiographical and fictional writings by residential school survivors as well as testimony from the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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  • Decolonizing Sport: Indigeneity, Hockey, and Canadian Nationhood

    This interdisciplinary and collaborative project explores the ambivalent place of hockey in relation to ongoing settler colonialism in Canada. In it, I analyze the cultural role of hockey in the naturalization of the settler Canadian nation state and the simultaneous mobilization of the sport as a vehicle for libratory self-expression and community building by Indigenous players, coaches, and fans. The phrase “decolonizing sport” is employed here in two senses: the first pertains to the need for hockey to be decolonized, given its colonialist baggage and its frequent saturation with racist, sexist, and homophobic iconography and discourse; the second pertains to the capacity for the sport to itself be exercised in ways that serve the cause of Indigenous resurgence.

    Keep Reading...