Solen Roth

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Montréal, U. de

Grant number

Gr. 9318

Approve Date

October 4, 2016

Project Title

Roth, Dr. Solen Cecile, U. of Montreal, Montreal, Canada - To aid research and writing on 'Culturally Modified Capitalism: Indigenizing Capitalist Markets in the Name of Cultural Perpetuati' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Preliminary abstract: My work examines the reciprocal influence of capitalism and Indigenous cultures, as exemplified by the commodification of North American Indigenous cultural heritage in the Canadian Pacific Northwest, and in Subarctic Québec. My research shows that, even as processes of cultural commodification are inherently tied to the colonial imposition of capitalism, Indigenous peoples in these two regions have also been infusing these markets with their own approaches to property, relationships, and economics. This denotes their hope that it is possible to find ways of using capitalism to perpetuate their ways of life, in a process that leads to what I call ‘culturally modified capitalism’. This concept is inspired by the designation ‘Culturally Modified Tree’, which refers to a tree altered by Indigenous harvesting methods that purposely keep the tree alive so that it can continue its growth. My use of ‘culturally modified capitalism’ thus emphasizes how Indigenous peoples draw on their cultural heritage for the purpose of economic development all the while being concerned with this heritage’s preservation. On the one hand, this concept stresses that many groups perceive the capitalist system as a threat on their ways of life but are nonetheless eager to harness it as best they can to support their efforts of cultural perpetuation. On the other hand, it points to the idea that indigenizing capitalism gives it a more familiar and therefore friendlier face, which in turn makes it more difficult for Indigenous peoples to contest it. For this fellowship, my objectives are to (1) publish the results of my doctoral work about ‘culturally modified capitalism’, in the form of a book (under contract at UBC Press), and (2) publish one peer-reviewed article that provides a comparative analysis of this phenomenon in the Pacific Northwest and in Subarctic Québec.