Johanna Lederer

KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Am Marktplatz 2

85072 Eichstätt

Johanna Lederer holds an MA in North American Studies from the University of Bonn and a BA in Multilingual Communication (English and French) from the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne. She is a member of the Association for Canadian Studies in German-speaking Countries.

Her research on representations of Indigenous activism in Canadian media has earned her the Jürgen and Freia Saße Award which brought her to Toronto for a research stay.

Her dissertation project with the working title “Making Place for Indigineity: Imaginative Practices in Speculative Fiction and Activism” focuses on the role of Indigenous futurism in the reimagining of Canada as a dynamic place by way of decentering settler epistemologies and asserting Indigenous presence and agency.

Making Place for Indigeneity: Imaginative Practices in Speculative Fiction and Activism

Indigenous struggles have often narrowly been viewed as resistance to colonialism instead of being acknowledged as complex practices of placemaking. I explore Indigenous literary and activist imaginations as decolonizing placemaking practices in a Canadian context. Indigenous artists employ and imagine placemaking practices in their speculative fiction works (e.g. novels, short stories, and comics) and Indigenous activists in turn engage in these placemaking practices and futurist narratives. These narrative and artistic practices include renaming and reclaiming places, revitalizing Indigenous languages, reasserting Indigenous presence in Canadian urban spaces as well as processes of memorialization. Referencing theories by Natchee Blu Barnd, Mishuana Goeman, and Derek Gregory, I argue that these placemaking practices assert Indigenous presence in both physical and imaginary spaces and landscapes. While the genre of speculative fiction expands our understanding of what constitutes storytelling, all of these practices can be understood as storytelling, bringing forward Indigenous narratives and epistemologies in material and fictional places. They contest the imaginative geography of Canada being a benevolent multicultural nation-state and its manifestations, e.g. colonial statues, patriotic celebrations, and museums. I will discuss how Indigenous futurisms (as theorized by Grace Dillon) thus destabilize Canadian settler colonial claims to diversity and the settler colonial space. While the main focus of my project is Canada, I want to acknowledge the parallels in struggles, creative work, and placemaking practices between Black and Indigenous people in Canada and the United States beyond narrow nation-state conceptions. Colonialism is frequently described as a societal structure that cannot be reduced to specific events. I will argue that colonialism and decolonization should be understood through – often mediated – practices, focusing not so much on time, but making place.