Graduate Student Presentation Prize – 2019

Margaret Boyce (McMaster University) wins the 2019 CACLALS Graduate Student Presentation Prize for her paper “Seeking Understanding in the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Exhibition Catalogues.”

Presentation Prize Panel (left to right) with Dr. Daniel Coleman (distinguished guest judge; McMaster), Margaret Boyce (McMaster), Connor Meeker (York), and Jonathan Nash (Victoria).

Congratulations to Margaret Boyce, PhD candidate at McMaster University, for being selected by judges Drs. Daniel Coleman, Jesse Arseneault and Asma Sayed as the winner of the 2019 CACLALS Graduate Student Presentation Prize.

Below are the citations by our judges for each finalist paper (in order of presentation):

Margaret Boyce’s paper offered an incisive exploration of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s (WAG) exhibition catalogues of Inuit art, troubling how they stage the relationship between frequently settler bodies in the south and Inuit communities in the north. While the museum’s account of Inuit art figures it as a window into Inuit culture, Boyce’s paper traces how such rhetoric instead facilitates Canada’s effective occupation of the Arctic region by imagining the North as a blank slate onto which the Canadian state can project its own Northernness and assimilate Inuit art into an imagined Canadian unity. In the process of projecting Canada into Inuit histories, the paper suggests, the WAG simultaneously relegates Indigenous claims to sovereignty to the past. Boyce’s paper stood out for a number of reasons; it provided a clear direction for current and future research thinking through the particularities of Canada’s ongoing colonial control over the north not always legible in the theoretical frameworks of southern settler-colonialism, challenged conventional frames for reading Inuit art—especially those that rely on universalist notions of aesthetics and ethnographic readings of “culture”—and, finally, closed with a nod to the possibility that artworks themselves—rather than facilitating an encounter of domination—may be documents that refuse such an encounter.”

Connor Meeker provided a thoughtful close reading of the play Reckoning by Tara Beagan and Andy Moro, noting how the play works against the Canadian reconciliation paradigm by presenting how inequitable the affective labour required by the TRC process actually is and thus acknowledging the ongoing trauma of the residential schools in the very effort of reconciliation. The play, he pointed out, thus attempts to touch feeling without presenting  Indigenous pain for settler consumption. Setting this reading in the rich context of the financial and emotional economy within which the TRC operates as well as in relation to a range of Indigenous criticisms of reconciliation discourse, Connor highlighted how the art form of this play can offer an alternative way of storytelling that demonstrates the costs and quagmires of Canada’s settler colonial desire for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”

Jonathan Nash’s presentation proposed a new theoretical framework for looking at migration and detention in global literature and argued that we need new analytics that foregrounds self-making and world-making as its humanistic point of departure instead of biopower. Situating his reading of Kate Evan’s graphic journalism in the context of current global images of migration, he elaborated on self-making in narratives of migration and theories of ‘bare life’.”

For a description, criteria for judging, and other information about the prize, see Graduate Student Conference Presentation Prize.