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What is Demcon?


Third Annual Workshop of the

Consortium on Democratic Constitutionalism

University of Victoria

1-3 December 2006


Storied Communities:

Narratives of Contact and Arrival in Constituting Political Community


To enable us to foster intensive conversation throughout the workshop, we prepared a Discussion Paper.  This workshop builds upon a conference entitled “Worlds in Collision:  Critically Analyzing Aboriginal and European Contact Narratives”, held at UVic in February 2002.  The introduction from the volume resulting from the conference can be found here.  We have also created a discussion forum for draft papers received before the workshop, as well as for some papers that are germane to the conference but that were proposed to us after the program was set.  They can be found here.


Friday, December 1

There will be a session of the Victoria Colloquium on Political, Social and Legal Theory at 2:30 pm on the Friday afternoon. It will be delivered by Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Sociology, University of Coimbra and Law, University of Wisconsin-Madison, on the topic “Beyond Abyssal Thinking:  From Global Lines to Ecologies of Knowledge”. Please see our Victoria Colloquium page.

We hope that many participants will be able to attend.


The Workshop proper will begin with a Feast of Welcome at 6 pm on the evening of Friday, December 1. It will be held in Mungo Martin House in Thunderbird Park (casual dress; this is a First Nations longhouse of great significance in the renaissance of the carving traditions of the coastal First Nations, especially of Mungo Martin's own people, the Kwakwaka'wakw). Chief Robert Sam will welcome us to the territory of the Songhees First Nation, and the Feast will introduce us to indigenous story-telling traditions. There will be two story-tellers:  Dr. Ellen White (Kwulasulwut, which means "Many Stars"), an elder of the Snuneymuxw First Nation; and Richard Van Camp, a novelist and short-story writer of the Tlicho Nation in the North West Territories, who also teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

Saturday,December 2

The December 2 & 3 Workshops are held at the Halpern Graduate Student  Centre, which is located on Finnerty Road, just north of the Student Union Building (across the street from the UVic bookstore and bus terminus).

Registration: 8 am  at the Halpern Graduate Student  Centre.

Welcome : 8:45

Session 1: 9:00 - 10:45 am

Contact and Arrival

Foundational Narratives Speakers:

  • Michael Asch, Anthropology, UVic
  • Audrey Macklin, Law, University of Toronto


  • Brenna Bhandar, Law, University of Reading

This panel provides the foundation for the sessions that follow. The two speakers will sketch out the ways that narratives of contact and narratives of arrival operate to construct people, bodies, borders, and communities. The speakers will address the persistent importance and operation of these narratives over time. That is, the way that the narratives continue to operate powerfully in the present. One goal of this panel will be to open up the stories, providing ways for people to think through the narratives that will be considered in the rest of the workshop. The aim will be both to make the operation of each narrative more visible, and to bring up to speed people who have been working primarily in one or the other narrative.


Session 2: 11:00 am - 12:45 pm

Methods and Modes of Constructing Community: Narrative and Storytelling


  • John Borrows, Law, University of Victoria
  • Sneja Gunew, English and Women's Studies, University of British Columbia


  • Ted Chamberlin, Comparative Literature, University of Toronto


In this panel, we attend to the mechanisms - sometimes creative and even playful - by which narratives shape community. Themes include trickster narratives and disruption, narratives of resistance, storytelling and belonging; storytelling and exclusion; the proper ordering through narrative of various bodies within communities; how stories not only construct and position people, but also place them in relations.


12:45 - 2:00 pm

Session 3: 2:00 - 3:45 pm

Narratives of Contact: Bodies, Borders, Land, Belonging


  • Kim Anderson, Writer and Consultant on Social and Health Policy, Guelph , Ontario
  • Bain Attwood, History, Monash University
  • Jacinta Ruru, Law, University of Otago


On this panel, we focus on the ways that particular contact narratives construct borders, land, nationhood and belonging. We also explore how those stories are resisted, transformed, displaced and struggled against by the counter-narratives of indigenous communities.

Session 4: 4:00 - 5:45 pm

Narratives of Arrival: Bodies, Borders, Land, Belonging


  • Catherine Dauvergne, Law, University of British Columbia
  • Sean Rehaag, PhD candidate, Law, University of Toronto
  • Patricia Tuitt, Law, Birkbeck College, University of London


This panel focuses on arrival, exploring how narratives about immigration generate a set of stories about borders, land, nationhood and belonging. Here, also, we see stories of resistance, transformation, displacement and struggle from immigrant and refugee communities.

Sunday, December 3

Session 5: 8:30 - 10:15 am

Narrative in Practice: Would we do things differently if we took stories seriously?


  • Cliff Atleo, Ahousaht, Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation
  • S. Ronald Stevenson, Senior General Counsel, Department of Justice, Government of Canada
  • Peter Golden, Immigration Lawyer, Victoria BC
  • Danielle Juteau, Sociology, Université de Montréal



This panel will consider how our practice - in aboriginal/non-aboriginal negotiations, and in migration policy and processes - should take account of narrative (if it should). Does an attention to narrative help us make sense of the issues? Does it help us understand what is in issue, enabling us to structure processes in different, more constructive ways?


Session 6: 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Post Contact and Post Arrival: Sovereignty, Citizenship and Culture


  • Anne Godlewska, Department of Geography, Queens University
  • Martha Nandorfy, English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph
  • Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Professor & Distinguished Legal Scholar (Sociology, Law)


In this last panel, the speakers will provide their reflections on the role of narrative in constituting community, noting themes that have emerged over the course of the workshop or that have been neglected. They and all participants will reflect on how the discourse moves forward from here.

Workshop Closing
12:15 - 2:00 pm





December 1-3, 2006
University of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia






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