In and Against Canada




Henderson, Phil

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This dissertation is an intervention aimed primarily at the field of Canadian Political Science, but informed by engagements with Indigenous Studies, literatures on racial capitalism, and Global Histories. The overarching aim of the project is to provide a theoretical framework by which to study multi-scalar struggles taking place within and against the Canadian state from an explicitly anti-imperialist perspective. The insights of this project should also be of interest to the broad left, both in Canada and beyond. The dissertation begins with a call to situate the Canadian state, and its practice of “settler imperialism” as part of multi-scalar system of global racial capitalism. Key to understanding this is the mobilization of Stuart Hall’s concept of the “historical bloc” as a tool to grasp political mediations, and to refuse the too-easy analytical reification of structures or their practices of difference making. Part two of the dissertation interrogates the politics of solidarity “from below” by engaging “activist archives,” composed of “allyship toolkits,” zines, and pamphlets. These activist archives reveal two (at least analytically) distinct theories of change operating through the discourses of allyship and decolonization. While to differing degrees, they point to the work of politics below the state. In the case of “allyship” discourses this dissertation finds a normative individualism and an understanding of power as an object rather than something collectively exercised, leading to a charity model where solidarity is seen as an external relationship. In contrast, the decolonization literature understands how solidarity can proceed from an interested position towards building a relationship of shared concern, it substitutes a deference model for one defined by “relational autonomy” in the process of “worldmaking.” The final portion of this dissertation makes an in- depth case-study of Indigenous-led opposition to the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) pipeline project. Tracing out a number of strategies of hegemony, counter-hegemony, and grassroots struggles, the aim is to show a number of interrelated sites and tactics of anti-imperialist struggle grounded in a defence of both shared place and the self-determination of Indigenous nations.



Canadian Politics, Indigenous Politics, Settler Colonialism, Settler Imperialism, Racial Capitalism, Allyship, Alliances, Federalism, Anti-colonialism, Anti-imperialism, Collective Liberation, Trans Mountain, Indigenous Resurgence, Decolonization