Bad feelings, feeling bad: the affects of Asian-Indigenous coalition
Gage Karahkwí:io DIABO
ABSTRACT This article theorizes the affective forms that Asian-Indigenous alliances might take, using examples from contemporary Canadian film and literature as a cultural testing ground. Building on the efforts of scholars like Rita Wong, Larissa Lai, and Malissa Phung to trace a literary genealogy of Asian-Indigenous relations in Canada, the article first considers the structures of feeling which bolster efforts towards coalition-building between Asian settlers and First Nations. Rather than extending an optimistic or redemptive model, the article suggests that negative affect (or, what Sianne Ngai calls “ugly feelings”) ought to be taken seriously as both an unavoidable presence and a potential catalyst in and for active solidarity. The article then analyzes Sto:lo author Lee Maracle’s short story “Yin Chin” and Peter Blow’s documentary film A Village of Widows with an eye towards how bad feelings underpin the narrative calls to action in both texts. The article concludes by considering the role that bad feeling can and does play in terms of inter-referencing practices among cultural and historical scholars.
KEYWORDS: Asian-Indigenous; First Nations; Canada; literature; documentary; affect; settler; redress
Notes on contributor
Gage Karahkwi:io DIABO is a Mohawk graduate student from Kahnawake. He worked as an assistant director on APTN’s comedy series, Mohawk Girls, and as an associate producer on Roxann Whitebean’s short films, Legend of the Storm and The Paradigm. He also participated as a panelist and coordinator for the 2016 and 2017 editions of CBC Montreal's Turtle Island Reads event series. He currently studies at the University of British Columbia.