Intimacy. Proximity. Trauma: Family Lore as Settler Colonial Fantasy

Intimacy. Proximity. Trauma: Family Lore as Settler Colonial Fantasy
by Darryl Leroux 

Friday, April 21, 2023
1 p.m.

Family lore is a tricky concept to define — not outright lies, but not factual either, it’s a form of intergenerational communication that imagines historical events and relations in a manner that positions a given family as having unique customs or values. In their creation of lore, families often circulate stories about overcoming adversity and injustice, as a strategy to downplay more troubling stories of social advantage or power. One common form of family lore for white Canadians involves creating Indigenous ancestry and identity where it didn’t exist in the first place. This presentation is part of a wider research study that examines the circulation of family lore about indigeneity in white settler families. The focus here will be on the public statements released by high-profile individuals exposed by the media as making false claims to an Indigenous identity since 2017. These statements are quickly becoming a new genre of writing — one that exposes the intimate settler-colonial fantasies that propel the reconciliation era forward. 

Biography: Darryl Leroux is currently Visiting Professor of Sociology at the University of Ottawa. Starting May 1st, he’ll be an Associate Professor of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. His book Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity, published in 2019, was selected as one of the University of Manitoba Press’s top ten books of the 2010s. His current academic work disentangles how family lore propels white settlers to falsely claim Indigenous identities. Otherwise, he can often be seen fishing on a backcountry lake or stream.