Can a critical examination of Indigenous masculinities be an honour song—one that celebrates rather than pathologizes; one that seeks diversity and strength; one that overturns heteropatriarchy without centering settler colonialism? Can a critical examination of Indigenous masculinities even be creative, inclusive, erotic?
Carrying the Burden of Peace answers affirmatively. Countering the perception that “masculinity” has been so contaminated as to be irredeemable, the book explores Indigenous literary art for understandings of masculinity that exceed the impoverished inheritance of colonialism.
Sam McKegney’s argument is simple: if we understand that masculinity pertains to maleness, and that there are those within Indigenous families, communities and nations who identify as male, then the concession that masculinity concerns only negative characteristics bears stark consequences.
It would mean that the resources available to affirm those subjectivities will be constrained, and perhaps even contaminated by shame. Indigenous masculinities are more than what settler colonialism has told us. To deny the beauty, vulnerability, and grace that can be expressed and experienced as masculinity is to concede to settler colonialism’s limiting vision of the world; it is to eschew the creativity that is among our greatest strengths.
Carrying the Burden of Peace weaves together stories of Indigenous life, love, eroticism, pain, and joy to map the contours of diverse, empowered, and non-dominative Indigenous masculinities. It is from here that a more balanced world may be pursued.
About the author
Sam McKegney is a settler scholar of Indigenous literatures and is Professor and Head of the Department of English at Queen’s University in the territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Peoples. He has published two books—Masculindians: Conversations about Indigenous Manhood and Magic Weapons: Aboriginal Writers Remaking Community after Residential School—and articles on such topics as masculinity, environmental kinship, prison writing, and mythologies of hockey.
“I came away from the manuscript convinced of the need for this work, as I find it exemplary of the kind of careful, ethically attentive, and deeply generous scholarship we need more of.” —Daniel Heath Justice, author of Why Indigenous Literatures Matter
“There has been much debate in scholarly and community settings in recent years as to whether the examination of Indigenous masculinities might be one that celebrates rather than pathologizes. McKegney does not shy away from these debates and the players involved, and in so doing, takes risks in the service of holding place for decolonial men and masculinities. Beautifully written, his book is courageous, critical and unique in terms of advancing discussions about critical Indigenous masculinities in the academy and community alike.” —Kim Anderson, co-editor of Indigenous Men and Masculinities and Keetsahnak: Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters