Travelling Knowledges

Positioning the Im/Migrant Reader of Aboriginal Literatures in Canada


In the context of de/colonization, the boundary between an Aboriginal text and the analysis by a non-Aboriginal outsider poses particular challenges often constructed as unbridgeable. Eigenbrod argues that politically correct silence is not the answer but instead does a disservice to the literature that, like all literature, depends on being read, taught, and disseminated in various ways. In Travelling Knowledges, Eigenbrod suggests decolonizing strategies when approaching Aboriginal texts as an outsider and challenges conventional notions of expertise. She concludes that literatures of colonized peoples have to be read ethically, not only without colonial impositions of labels but also with the responsibility to read beyond the text or, in Lee Maracle's words, to become "the architect of great social transformation."

Features the works of: Jeannette Armstrong (Okanagan), Louise Halfe (Cree), Margo Kane (Saulteaux/Cree), Maurice Kenny (Mohawk), Thomas King (Cherokee, living in Canada), Emma LaRocque (Cree/Metis), Lee Maracle (Sto:lo/Metis), Ruby Slipperjack (Anishnaabe), Lorne Simon (Miíkmaq), Richard Wagamese (Anishnaabe), and Emma Lee Warrior (Peigan).


“Eigenbrod’s careful examination of the migrating and border-crossing of First Nations literature, and of her own position as an immigrant researcher of that literature, provides an important contribution to the field. … Her detailed, careful and culturalyu-situated readings of these under-studied texts, and of several that are central in the Native-Canadian canon, will make this volume useful to all readers of Native literature, both Native and non-Native.”

Canadian Journal of Native Studies, vol. 28 no.1, 2008

“One of the most difficult yet crucial tasks non-Aboriginal teachers and critics of Aboriginal literature find themselves facing is working out an ethical position from which to operate. The result of long years of reflection and successful teaching of, and writing about, Aboriginal literatures, Renate Eigenbrod’s Travelling Knowledges is a welcome guide to achieving this complex task.”

Chimo, Spring 2008

“Eigenbod offers a thorough and unassuming proposal on how to read and critique Aboriginal literature with both integrity and cultural literacy.”

Naomi McIlwraith, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, vol. 30, Issue 1, 2006

"[Eigenbrod’s] sensitive discussion of both texts and contexts is quite engaging, and her close readings of texts by writers such as Maurice Kenny, Lee Maracle, Lenore Keeshig-Tobias, Richard Wagamese, and Maria Campbell are particularly astute. …Throughout Travelling Knowledges, Eigenbrod skilfully manoevers through the experiential, ethical, and intellectual complexities of studying Aboriginal literatures with a keen eye, a thoughtful mind, and an open heart. Such work offers much for Native and non-Native readers, and it is a very welcome addition to the field.”

Daniel Heath Justice, University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 76.1, 2007

About the Author

Renate Eigenbrod teaches Aboriginal Literature in the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba and is co-editor of Creating Community: A Roundtable on Canadian Aboriginal Literatures.