Belonging in Unceded Territory (2020-2023)
Funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (#890-2019-0100), this project seeks to
(1) Understand how different groups of Vancouver residents understand social and place-based connectedness and belonging when considering these questions in the context of colonization and the fact that Vancouver is built on unceded Coast Salish territory
(2) Examine and understand what drives these attitudes
(3) Explore alternative narratives and experiences that can foster a decolonized belonging
Vancouver is situated on the traditional and unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Indigenous peoples have belonged to these lands since times immemorial. Vancouver also is home to close to 1 million immigrants who account for 40 percent of the metropolitan area’s population. Yet, narratives of social belonging in public and academic debates have long conceived of Vancouver society only in multicultural, rather than in settler colonial, terms. While popular understandings of multiculturalism can indeed provide a positive framework for immigrant inclusion, they stand in the way of decolonization as they fail to grapple with the past and present realities of settler colonialism.
This project seeks to bring settler colonialism into the center of debates on social belonging in Vancouver. What does it mean for today’s settlers – those among us who have lived here for generations, and those who have just arrived – to acknowledge our own position in relation to Indigenous presence in these lands? How can we develop place-based narratives of belonging that do not shy away from confronting the ugly truths of ongoing settler colonialism and that are mindful that we live, work, and play in unceded lands? How can the answers of these questions inform the creation of socially inclusive communities in this superdiverse city? Engagement with these questions is critical if we are to be responsive to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls for action.
The project will explore these questions through mixed methods, including text analysis, interviews, focus and dialogue groups, and survey research.
The project brings together faculty from the Centre for Migration Studies with Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA), and the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC). The UBC team (PI Antje Ellermann) includes 8 faculty members from political science, sociology, and literary studies who bring a multidisciplinary knowledge base and a mixed methods skill set that includes text analysis, in-depth interviewing, survey research, and focus group research. Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House is a place-based community organization brings experience with organizational and Indigenous capacity-building in the area of decolonization. ISSofBC is a government-funded immigrant and refugee serving organization that brings expertise in working with newcomers, immigrants, and refugees in Vancouver. AMSSA is specialized in convening dialogue among newcomers, newcomer organizations, and Indigenous communities.
Graphic Narratives of Migration (2021/22)
Funded by a SSHRC Connection Grant (#611-2020-0135) (co-applicants Antje Ellermann; Mireille Paquet, Concordia University; Frederik Køhlert, University of East Anglia), this project brings together an interdisciplinary team of UBC and Concordia migration scholars with Vancouver-based graphic artists to collaborate in the creation of a collection of migration narratives in comics form.
Context and Objectives
At a time when anti-immigrant populism is on the rise across the globe, this project aims to mobilize knowledge about the causes, experiences, and consequences of migration that is accessible to a broad audience and challenges the “us-against-them” narrative of anti-immigrant populists. To do so, the project pursues three objectives. First, it seeks to foster dialogue between migration scholars from different disciplines and graphic artists on the use of graphic narratives as a method of knowledge transfer. Second, it will create and disseminate migration narratives in graphic form. As a hybrid medium that combines both visual and print text, graphic narratives are visually rich and multi-layered texts that depart from the conventional, linear reading characteristic of scholarly writing. By integrating the process of academic scholarship on migration with the production of graphic narrative, our project seeks to capture complexity and promote dialogue on a broad range of migration issues. Third, the project will provide training for both graduate students and faculty on how to transfer knowledge through the medium of graphic narrative.
The event will be held at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus, which is located on the territory of Musqueam First Nation. It will bring together 37 confirmed established and early career migration and graphic narrative scholars from the University of British Columbia, Concordia University, the University of Victoria, and the University of East Anglia with 18 graduate researchers of migration and 10 Vancouver-based graphic artists, including 5 students from UBC’s Master of Fine Arts program.