In our collaborative writing and research, we aim to create and model a sense of a commons that is indicative of the kind of literacy and curriculum that we believe teachers and students need to be proficient in, so they can teach and live well with each other in the classrooms and the communities they dwell in. This commons is characterized by a sustained loving attention to others’ stories in relation to the histories and mythologies of the places each of us lives in. We use métissage as a research approach and a literary praxis that invites writers to braid strands of their own writing with that of others. Métissage, as we have come to define it in a Canadian context, is a mixing and a rapprochement of differences: race, culture, class, gender, geography, and language (Chambers, Hasebe-Ludt, Donald, Hurren, Leggo, & Oberg, 2008; Lionnet, 1989).
In our work across Canadian educational and literary landscapes, the sign and signifier of Métis are particularly appropriate considering Canada’s historical and colonial context. As Canadian researchers and writers, we heed John Ralston Saul’s (2008) claim that Canada is “a Métis civilization,” one that evolved through mixing of Indigenous and French or other European racial identities. The word origin of métissage comes from the Latin mixticius, meaning the weaving of a cloth from different fibres (Mish, 1990). In Greek mythology Metis was an ancient Titaness, the primordial figure of wisdom, descended from Gaia and Uranus. Metis was also a figure of skill and craft, and of cunning, a trickster with powers of transformation who resisted notions of purity by weaving and blurring textiles (Harper, 2001). Métissage, derived from these origins, is an artful craft and practice, an active literary and pedagogical strategy for negotiating conflicting or dichotomous value systems. It is a political praxis that seeks to uncover and reclaim the wisdom of lost or forgotten origins. The method of métissage, as appropriated in poststructural/postcolonial and curriculum theory as well as pedagogical contexts, encourages genuine exchange and sustained engagement with the tracing of “mixed and multiple identities” in the “messy threads of relatedness and belonging” (Hasebe-Ludt, Chambers, & Leggo, 2009).
Adapted from: Hasebe-Ludt, E., & Jordan, N. (2010). “Opening”—May we get us a heart of wisdom: Life writing across knowledge traditions. Transnational Curriculum Inquiry, 7(2), pp. 1-4. Available at: http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/tci/article/view/2035
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