Reflections on Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention
This talk offers a unique opportunity to think through the arguments of Jaskiran Dhillon’s new book Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention (University of Toronto Press, 2017). Prairie Rising provides a series of critical reflections about the changing face of settler colonialism through an ethnographic investigation of Indigenous-state relations, with a careful and deliberate focus on the lives of Indigenous youth, in the city of Saskatoon, Canada. The book uncovers how various groups including state agents, youth workers, and community organizations utilize participatory politics in order to intervene in the lives of Indigenous youth living under conditions of colonial occupation and marginality. In doing so, Prairie Rising sheds light on the changing forms of settler governance and the interlocking systems of education, child welfare, and criminal justice that sustain it. Moreover, Dhillon’s analysis exposes how the push for inclusionary governance ultimately reinstates colonial settler authority and raises startling questions about the federal government’s commitment to justice and political empowerment for Indigenous Nations, particularly within the context of the everyday realities facing Indigenous youth. This discussion will also offer a space to deliberate critical questions about the production and circulation of knowledge with respect to Indigenous youth, and provide insights on the implications of this work for the fields of youth studies, Indigenous studies, anthropology, and social work as well as implications for direct action and political organizing.
Jaskiran Dhillon is a first generation academic and organizer who grew up on Treaty Six Cree and Metis Territory in Saskatchewan, Canada. Committed to the tenets of public intellectualism, Jaskiran’s scholarship is intimately connected to, and informed by, on-the-ground advocacy and direct action. Her work spans the fields of settler colonialism, anthropology of the state, anti-racist and Indigenous feminism, youth studies, colonial violence, and Indigenous studies and has been published in The Guardian, Cultural Anthropology, Truthout, Public Seminar, Feminist Formations, and Decolonization among other venues. Her first book, Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention (2017), provides a critical, ethnographic account of state interventions in the lives of urban indigenous youth. Her new research focuses on developing an anti-colonial critique of the environmental justice movement by examining Indigenous political movements working against the extractive industry, including the resistance at Standing Rock. She is also the guest editor of a special issue of Environment and Society that foregrounds Indigenous resistance to, and theorizing of, climate change and co-editor, along with Nick Estes, of #NODAPL and Mni Wiconi: Reflections on Standing Rock to be released in 2018 with University of Minnesota Press. Jaskiran is an assistant professor of global studies and anthropology at The New School in New York City and a member of the New York City Stands with Standing Rock Collective.