Geography of Violence and Homecoming : North(e)scapes of Eden Robinson



Year of publication 2015
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description First Nations Haisla writer Eden Robinson works with the idea of North in peculiar ways: in some stories, the characters escape ‘south’, embracing urban anonymity and modernity but also a promise, often unfulfilled, of freedom and hopeful future. For example, in the short story "Traplines", the main character Will undergoes a series of escapes from the abusive and malfunctioning family and communal environment which is framed with markers of ‘northerness’/otherness—snow, cold, wildness, trapline, white marten, cedar smoke, village, hunger, family dysfunction)—only to realize that the space standing in opposition to where he comes from, space seemingly promising comfort, care, safety, warmth, and food, is a disguised trap set up for him. This dichotomy of ‘north’ and ‘south’ is, however, reversed in other texts, such as "Queen of the North", Monkey Beach and its non-fictional complement Sasquatch at Home. North, both geographical and metaphorical, becomes a trope for traditional homeland—a link to pre-colonial civilization and history, albeit unromanticized one—as well as contemporary hybrid Indigeneity, while the ‘south’ threatens with urban violence, crime, and encroaching whiteness. My presentation will explore this dichotomy in Robinson's various texts and attempt to uncover a potential reconciliation or transgression of the simplified opposition of ‘northern wildness’ and ‘southern civilization’.
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