The Sociological Indian: representations of Indigeneity in Canadian and American sociology journals

11:00am -12:00pm
Friday, February 17th, 2023
Social Science Centre 5220

A lecture by Vanessa Watts

Who are Indigenous peoples in sociology? Is there such thing as an “Indigenous social”?  In this talk, representations of Indigeneity will be explored in thematic categories found across five sociology journals  from the US and Canada (Canadian Journal of Sociology, Canadian Review of Sociology, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Social Forces).  Indigenous-focused research in sociology as a subject has been longstanding in the discipline.   As such, sociological ideas about what constitutes Indigenous social realities have developed, and in some instances, these ideas have entrenched tropes about who Indigenous peoples are.  Analyzing scholarship from from the US and Canada, this research aims to understand how sociologists have either challenged state interests in Indigenous issues, promoted them, and/or reflected Indigenous social realities.


Vanessa Watts is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. She teaches many courses on Indigenous issues, around Indigenous methodologies and ways of knowing, and around reconciliation. Dr. Watts’ research interests include the sociology of knowledge, Indigenous ontologies, Indigenous feminisms and Indigenous ways of knowing. In 2018, she was awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for her project “An Indigenist Sociology of Knowledge: Indigenous social lives in Indigenous studies, sociology and political science (1895 and beyond).” The project interrogates over a century of representations of Indigenous peoples in sociology and political science. It will contribute to new knowledge in the field of Indigenous studies through an inductively generated concept map of Indigenous understandings of social beings. This method centres Indigenous voice and knowledges, and convenes it as an authoritative source of analysis. Dr. Watts is also a Research Fellow at the Yellowhead Institute at Ryerson University, a centre that privileges First Nation philosophy and is focused on policies related to land and governance. 

This Colloquium Lecture is brought to you by the Department of Sociology, Indigenous Studies and the Social Science Student Donation Fund, and is open to the public, students and scholars of any discipline.