|Riel a little closer Feb 23 2013|
Louis Riel and the Creation of Modern
Mythic Discourse in the
Robert-Falcon Ouellette’s interview with the author, Jennifer Reid
The following is a conversation that took place on the radio show
At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research between the host, Dr. Robert-Falcon Ouellette, and Dr. Jennifer Reid. First broadcast on April 17, 2012, the two talk about Reid’s new book Louis Riel and the Creation of Modern Canada—Mythic Discourse in the Post-Colonial State (published by University of Manitoba Press). This interview was broadcast by the UMFM radio station and the podcast is hosted at www.attheedgeofcanada.blogspot.com. The interview was transcribed by Bryan Tordon.
Robert: Welcome to At the Edge of
Jennifer : Well, thank you Robert.
Robert : I was reading your new book—well, it’s not a new book, in fact it’s an "old" book republished here in
Jennifer : Well, it was published in 2008 by
Robert: Wow, that’s very exciting,
Jennifer: Yes, it’s what I wanted in the first place but I couldn’t get a bite in terms of Canadian publishers, so that’s why I went with the
Robert: This book looks at the mythic significance that surrounds Louis Riel and explores the search for Canadian national identity. I was wondering if you could just talk a bit about the premise of the book.
Jennifer: There are a few things going on simultaneously in the book. One of the basic things that I’m interested in is how, in a broader sense, the notion of the nation state doesn’t work very well with post-colonial states. It’s a European construction, and with a nation state you need to have broad geopolitical notions of identity that rest on traditional things like religion, language, or ethnicity. This is what makes a nation, but in post-colonial states we lack those traditional markers for community. We don’t have a single nation in any post-colonial state. That’s the nature of colonialism: it mishmashes everybody together. So I started thinking about how, maybe, identity in this context has to reflect disjunctures and tensions rather than commonalities. Immediately, my long-term interest in Riel just kind of congealed around that. I thought about the constructions of Riel by so many different communities, and the so many different Riels that are out there, and it occurred to me that perhaps he could be one of those linchpins for thinking about identity in terms of disjuncture and tension. So that’s what it came out of.
Robert: Because you also write about the métissage and the creolization of the Canadian state.
Jennifer: Yes, I think that the fundamental thing we have to come to terms with in the modern period is that post-colonial states, the Atlantic world - essentially