Dis/locating Preferential Memory within Settler Colonial Landscapes: A Forward-Looking Backward Glance at Memoration’s Per/formation


  • Leah Decter NSCAD University


The degree to which authorized sites of commemoration such as monuments perpetuate deep-rooted practices of selective remembering and forgetting in settler states, and in doing so, help to entrench narratives and mythologies that mask ongoing colonial occupation and violence while denying Indigenous sovereignty, has arguably never been more evident. While official sites of remembrance undoubtedly shape the dominant imaginary, vernacular forms of commemoration exerted implicitly and explicitly in everyday life are also powerfully influential in the circulation of the nation’s ascendant ideation as what Audra Simpson calls “narration[s] of truth.” This paper will examine the ways “memoration,” an artistic/performance methodology I have developed through my inter-media art practice and scholarship, performs interventions into commemoration in the guise of public, national, and personal memory. As an adaptable and inherently relational, embodied and place-based methodology, memoration offers a framework of in Andrew Herscher's terms, “remembering otherwise”: one that activates a reckoning with the intergenerational responsibilities of being-in-relation, in my case as a white settler, on Indigenous lands that are at the same time “occupied” and unceded.

Author Biography

Leah Decter, NSCAD University

Dr. Leah Decter is an inter-media/performance artist and scholar based in Winnipeg, Canada, Treaty 1 Territory. She is also a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Creative Technologies and Community Engagement at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Her research, writing, and artwork/research-creation, written from a critical white settler perspective, contend with the ways artistic production can subvert colonial ideations embedded in the settler imaginary and contribute to decolonial and noncolonial paradigms. Decter holds a PhD in cultural studies from Queen’s University and an MFA in new media from Transart Institute.