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 “Telling Indigenous Futures through Stories: Creative Placemaking in Literature and the Arts” explores Indigenous futurist placemaking practices in a Turtle Island context as storytelling.

Telling Indigenous Futures through Stories: Creative Placemaking in Literature and the Arts

My dissertation analyzes Indigenous literary and artistic practices as decolonizing and Indigenizing placemaking practices in a Turtle Island context. I argue that these placemaking practices—remembering places, imagining places, sounding places, and creating Indigenous futures in urban spaces—can be understood as futurist storytelling, bringing forward Indigenous narratives and epistemologies.

They also contest the imaginative geography of Canada being a benevolent multicultural nation-state whose history can be told in a linear manner. Working with theory by Mishuana Goeman (Tonawanda Band of Seneca), Heather Igloliorte (Inuk), and Dylan Robinson (Stó:lō/Skwah), for instance, I discuss how Indigenous futurisms in novels, short stories, and comics but also in museums and public art destabilize Canadian settler colonial claims to diversity and the settler colonial infrastructure. Over the course of four chapters, I combine different media, reading comics such as “Future World” by Jennifer Storm (Ojibway) and “kitaskînaw 2350” by Chelsea Vowel (Métis) alongside short stories such as “Lost in Space” by Drew Hayden Taylor (Ojibway) and “History of the New World” by Adam Garnet Jones (Cree/Métis), for instance. These futurist forms of storytelling are not new to Indigenous people, but understanding Indigenous artistic and curatorial practices through the lens of place enables one to read e.g., museum exhibitions and public art differently. Alternately engaged in connecting Indigenous youth, calling attention to structural issues such as violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people, or revitalizing traditional practices and languages, the case studies illustrate the connection between Indigenous art, activism, and placemaking. The broad scope of my case studies transcends narrow settler colonial borders and shows similarities between Indigenous placemaking practices in francophone Quebec, anglophone Ontario, and the United States. Many of these Indigenous future imaginaries are clearly community-oriented and do not (immediately) provide a reading or decoding strategy for audiences who are not intimately familiar with the specific Indigenous community’s epistemologies and stories. Not only are the literature and art community-oriented, but they also create community and kinship.