Unsettling Citizenship: Movements for Indigenous Sovereignty and Migrant Justice in a Settler City
Johnston, Krista Rose
MetadataShow full item record
The central argument in this dissertation is that immigration and citizenship policies are integral to settler colonialism in Canada and that this has tremendous implications for alliances between Indigenous sovereignty and migrant justice movements in the city of Toronto. Urban Indigenous sovereignty activists are focused on the regeneration and resurgence of Indigeneity, expressed as responsibilities to land and community. To the extent that migrant justice movements are compelled to engage primarily with and through immigration and citizenship policies, their struggles are incommensurable with those for Indigenous sovereignty (see Tuck and Yang). Yet, when migrant justice movements are able to expose the colonial investments of these policies, to contest the dominance of the settler state, and to decolonize relationships of identity, land, and belonging, important possibilities for alliance-building emerge. The urban context thus provides an important potential site for decolonization and alliance-building, yet it is not atomized from the state, nor from state practices. In unsettling citizenship, migrant justice and Indigenous sovereignty activists are also, to some degree, unsettling the city. Here, “unsettling” signals the simultaneous acts of disrupting the linkage between settler colonialism and citizenship, of asserting Indigenous sovereignty in the city, and of challenging the assumption that citizenship is the primary political subjectivity of the contemporary context. As Vaughan-Williams concludes, “The conundrum is how to think political community otherwise” (169). Although none of the activists I spoke with were prepared to dictate what decolonized relationships in the city should look like, many suggested that Indigenous approaches to identity, land, and belonging as interrelated responsibilities might provide important ways of re-imagining co-existence that respect autonomy and interdependence.