Law's hidden canvas: teasing out the threads of Coast Salish legal sensibility

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dc.contributor.author Boisselle, Andrée
dc.date.accessioned 2017-12-22T21:30:02Z
dc.date.copyright 2017 en_US
dc.date.issued 2017-12-22
dc.identifier.uri https://dspace.library.uvic.ca//handle/1828/8921
dc.description.abstract This dissertation seeks to illuminate key aspects of Coast Salish legal sensibility. It draws on collaborative fieldwork carried out between 2007 and 2010 with Stó:lō communities from the Fraser Valley in southern British Columbia, and on the rich ethnohistorical record produced on, with, and by members of the Stó:lō polity and of the wider Coast Salish social world to which they belong. The preoccupation underlying this inquiry is to better understand how to approach an Indigenous legal tradition on its own terms, in a way respectful of its distinctiveness – especially in an ongoing colonial context, and from my position as an outsider to this tradition. As such, a main question drives the inquiry: What makes a legal tradition what it is? Two series of legal insights emerge from this work. The first are theoretical and methodological. The character of a legal tradition, I suggest, owes more to implicit norms than to explicit ones. In order to gain the kind of understanding that allows for respectful interactions with the principles and processes that inform decision-making within a given legal order, one must learn to decipher the norms that are not so much talked about as tacitly modelled by its members. Paying attention to pragmatic forms of communication – the mode of conveying meaning interactively and contextually, typically by showing rather than telling – reveals the hidden normative canvas upon which explicit norms are grafted. This deeper layer of normativity inflects peoples’ subjectivity and sense of their own agency – the distinctive fabric of their socialization. This lens on law – emerging from a reflection on the stories that Stó:lō friends shared with me, on the discussions had with them, and on the relational experience of Stó:lō / Coast Salish pedagogy, and further informed by scholarship on Indigenous and Western law, political philosophy and sociolinguistics – yields a second series of insights. Those are ethnographical, about Coast Salish legal sensibility itself. They attach to three central institutions of the Stó:lō legal order: the Transformer storycycle, longhouse governance practice and the figure of the witness, and ancestral names – corresponding to three sets of key relationships within the tradition: to the land, to the spirit, and to kin. Among those insights, a central one concerns the importance of interconnectedness as an organizing principle within Stó:lō / Coast Salish legal orders. Coast Salish people are not simply aware of the factual interdependence of people and things in the world, pay special attention to this, and happen to offer a description of the world as interconnected. There is a normative commitment at work here. Interconnectedness informs dominant interpretations of how the world should work. It is a source of explicit responsibilities and obligations – but more amorphously and pervasively yet, it structures legitimate discourse and appropriate behavior within contemporary Coast Salish societies. en_US
dc.language English eng
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.rights Available to the World Wide Web en_US
dc.subject Indigenous law en_US
dc.subject Indigenous law - Coast Salish law - Witnessing en_US
dc.subject Indigenous legal traditions en_US
dc.subject Indigenous names en_US
dc.subject Indigenous spirituality en_US
dc.subject Indigenous storytelling en_US
dc.subject Pacific Northwest - Indigenous peoples en_US
dc.subject Coast Salish legal tradition en_US
dc.subject Coast Salish longhouse - traditional governance en_US
dc.subject Sociolinguistics - discourse analysis - pragmatics en_US
dc.subject Stó:lō legal order en_US
dc.subject Stó:lō Téméxw en_US
dc.subject Legal sensibility en_US
dc.subject Aboriginal title en_US
dc.subject Kinship en_US
dc.subject Stó:lō traditional territory en_US
dc.title Law's hidden canvas: teasing out the threads of Coast Salish legal sensibility en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.contributor.supervisor Webber, Jeremy H. A.
dc.degree.department Faculty of Law en_US
dc.degree.level Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D. en_US
dc.identifier.bibliographicCitation Boisselle, Andrée. “To Dignity Through the Back Door: Tsilhqot’in and the Aboriginal Title Test” 2015 71 SCLR 2d 27, online: <http://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/sclr/vol71/iss1/2>. en_US
dc.identifier.bibliographicCitation Boisselle, Andrée. “Beyond Consent and Disagreement: Why Law’s Authority is Not Just About Will” in Jeremy Webber & Colin M Macleod, eds, Between Consenting Peoples: Political Community and the Meaning of Consent (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010) 207. en_US
dc.identifier.bibliographicCitation Boisselle, Andrée. “Emerging from Colonial Quicksands: Examining Stó:lō Discourse Around the Experience of Taking on Responsibility for the Delivery of Child and Family Services”, (revised in 2008), online: <http://web.uvic.ca/stolo/pdf/Boiselle_Emerging_from_quicksands_2008.pdf>. en_US
dc.description.scholarlevel Graduate en_US
dc.description.expiry 2018-10-20

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