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

Selected Bibliography

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Basso, K. (1996). Stalking with stories. In Wisdom sits in places: Landscape and language among the Western Apache (pp. 37-70). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Bauman, Z. (1993). Postmodern ethics. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Chambers, C., & Hasebe-Ludt, E., with Donald, D., Hurren, W., Leggo, C., & Oberg, A. (2008). Métissage. In J. G. Knowles & A. L. Cole (Eds.), Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues (pp. 141-153). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Deleuze, G., & Parnet, C. (1986). Dialogues (H. Tomlinson & B. Habberjam, Trans.). NY: Columbia University Press.

Gadamer (1985). Truth and method. New York: Crossroad. (Original work published 1975).

Glissant, E. (2007). Poetics of relation (B. Wing, Trans.). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. (Original work published 1990).

Graves, R. (1955/1980). The Greek myths (Vol. I). New York: Penguin Books.

Griffin, S. (1995). The eros of everyday life: Essays on ecology, gender and society. New York: Doubleday.

Habermas, J. (1990). Moral consciousness and communicative action (C. Lenhardt & S. W. Nicholson, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. (Original Work published 1983).

Hasebe-Ludt, E., Chambers, C. M., & Leggo, C. (2009). Life writing and literary mėtissage as an ethos for our times. New York: Peter Lang.

Harper, D. (2001). Online etymology dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.etoymonline.com

Heaney, S. (1995). Crediting poetry. Loughcrew: The Gallery Press.

Jardine, D. W. (1998). To dwell with a boundless heart: Essays in curriculum theory, hermeneutics, and the ecological imagination. New York: Peter Lang.

Kadar, M., Warley, L., Perreault, J, & Egan, S. (2005). Tracing the autobiographical. Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University Press.

Kelly, U. A. (1997). Schooling desire: Literacy, cultural politics, and pedagogy. New York: Routledge.

King, T. (2003). The truth about stories: A Native narrative. Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press.

Lionnet, F. (1989). Autobiographical voices: Race, gender and self-portraiture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.

Lionnet, F. (2001). A politics of the “we”? Autobiography, race, and nation. American Literary History, 13(3), 376-392.

McLeod, N. (1998). Coming home through stories. International Journal of Canadian Studies, Fall, 18, 51-66.

Mish, F. C. (Ed.). (1990). Webster’s ninth new collegiate dictionary. Markham, ON: Thomas Allen & Son.

Richardson, L. (1994). Writing: A method of inquiry. In Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.), The handbook of qualitative research (pp. 516-529). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Saul, J. R. (2008). A fair country: Telling truths about Canada. Toronto, ON: Viking Canada.

Smith, D. G. (2008, April). Wisdom responses to globalization: A meditation on Ku-Shan. Invited presentation at Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.

Spretnak, C. (1991). States of grace: The recovery of meaning in the postmodern age. New York: HarperOne.

Vanier, J. (1998). Becoming human. Toronto: House of Anansi Press.

Tompkins, J. (1998). Teaching in a cold and windy place: Change in an Inuit school. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


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