Canadian Citizens as Postcolonial Subjects?

Reading Robert Kroetsch's The Lovely Treachery of Words

in Critical Survey
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Many of the critical essays of the Canadian novelist, poet and theorist Robert Kroetsch, as collected in his 1989 anthology The Lovely Treachery of Words, explore the issue of how Canadian writers attempt to establish a cultural nationalism in the face of the decline of the British Empire. They are an initial expression of ideas about place and language, the problematic discourse of the 'New World', and the reinscription of First Nations peoples into the literature and culture of the Canadian nation. These are concerns which later came to be regarded as 'postcolonial' with the burgeoning of the term in the late 1980s through to the present day. However, his essays are due for reassessment in the light of recent responses to postcolonial subjectivity which critique the 'colonizer-colonized' binary as used in settler-invader contexts. This 'colonizer-colonized' binary has a troubling tendency to efface indigenous peoples. It conceals the imperialistic, land-grabbing aspects of settler-invader history by positing the settler as the true postcolonial subject, searching for a stable national identity – an authentic Canadian sense of citizenship and belonging – in the face of a cultural heritage largely defined by European imperialism.