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A Complex Web of Relations that Extends Beyond the Human


  • Acknowledgments: An early version of this article was originally presented at the “Is There, Can There Be, such an Activity as World Humanities?” Conference in Vancouver, Canada in January 27–28, 2012. I am indebted to several participants for their feedback, including (but not limited to) Eldon Yellowhorn, Leroy Little Bear, and Brenda Crabtree. I would also like to thank Eric Davis and Christine Kim for their comments on and conversations about this latest version.

DEANNA REDER, Assistant Professor, Department of English/Department of First Nations Studies, Simon Fraser University. Specialties: Indigenous literatures in Canada, Indigenous literary theories, autobiography theory. E-mail:


This article considers the question “Is There, Can There Be, such an Activity as World Humanities?” My response takes issue with the phrase “world humanity” that serves to legitimize a homogenizing process of globalization while simultaneously hiding from view the injustices and power imbalances that globalization creates. From my perspective as a Cree-Métis scholar, the world humanities are only valuable if they participate in the recuperation and protection of Indigenous stories—and by extension Indigenous languages and epistemes—that would require a reconsideration of the definition and obligations of what it means to be human.