Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention

Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention

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By Jaskiran Dhillon
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2017
World Rights
320 Pages
ISBN 9781442614710
Published Mar 2017
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ISBN 9781442646926
Published Mar 2017
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442666870
Published Apr 2017
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In 2016, Canada’s newly elected federal government publically committed to reconciling the social and material deprivation of Indigenous communities across the country. Does this outward shift in the Canadian state’s approach to longstanding injustices facing Indigenous peoples reflect a “transformation with teeth,” or is it merely a reconstructed attempt at colonial Indigenous-settler relations?

Prairie Rising provides a series of critical reflections about the changing face of settler colonialism in Canada through an ethnographic investigation of Indigenous-state relations in the city of Saskatoon.  Jaskiran Dhillon 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, this accessibly written book sheds light on the changing forms of settler governance and the interlocking systems of education, child welfare, and criminal justice that sustain it. Dhillon’s nuanced and fine-grained 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.

Jaskiran Dhillon is an assistant professor of global studies and anthropology at The New School in New York City.

List of Figures

Preface and Appreciations

Introduction: Urban Indigenous Youth and Participatory Politics in the Paris of the Prairies

Part 1: A World of Invisible Things: History and Politics in the Context of Settler Colonial Encounters

Chapter 1: Breakage: Settler Colonization, Violence, and the Possibility (Still) of Self-Determined Destiny

Chapter 2: The Making of Crisis Stories

Part 2: The Space that Lies in Between: Ethnographic Encounters with the Land of Living Skies

Chapter 3: Seductive Change: They Say the Best is Yet to Come

Chapter 4: Policing the Boundaries and Debates over What’s “Real”

Part 3: Pushback on the Plains: Tensions and Trials of Participation

Chapter 5: Justice in a Binder: Cultural Currency and Urban Indigenous Youth

Chapter 6: The Dislocation of Self

Conclusion: Red Rising



"Demonstrating how Indigenous youth on the prairies bear the brunt of ongoing structural and symbolic colonial violence, Jaskiran Dhillon’s Prairie Rising makes a compelling case for the urgent need to historicize and politicize present day Indigenous social conditions by calling for critical changes in curriculum, hiring and public programming. If we are truly committed to reconciliation, the political analysis offered in this accessible ethnographic book must become the foundation of decolonizing education in psychology, educational studies, criminal justice, and child welfare."

Verna St. Denis, Department of Educational Foundations, University of Saskatchewan

"Prairie Rising offers an incisive critique of how the state facilitates regimes of intervention through a discourse of participation. Jaskiran Dhillon’s beautifully written, deeply engaging, and well-argued critique of inclusion is truly a pleasure to read."

Sherene H. Razack, Penney Kanner Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

"In Prairie Rising, Jaskiran Dhillon completely unmasks the discourse of ‘participation’ as a neoliberal, multicultural, and settler-colonial governmental ruse."

Audra Simpson, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University