Spring 2021 - IS 319 D100

Special Topics in Comparative World Politics, Culture and Society (4)

Indigenous Politics

Class Number: 5869

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Specific details of courses to be offered will be published prior to enrollment each term.


This course introduces students to a discussion on the specific experience of indigenous people understood from a global perspective. Following some of the key debates, we will consider indigeneity as a specific form of ethnicity that also transcends ethnicity’s specificity. Colonization, the expropriation of territories through force and law, the political (in)subordination to settler-colonial populations, are some of the specific experiences of indigenous peoples. Yet the forms and dynamics of these relations, as well as the forms in which indigenous people have recreated their sociability, knowledge, and identities vary greatly across different indigenous nations, regionally and transnationally. The first part of the course will consider debates around the definition of indigenous experience. The second part of the course will unpack the main systems of inequality that have incorporated indigeneity as a dimension of subordination and marginalization, as well as the forms in which indigenous nations not only resist but also interrupt modernity, nation-state, and the claims of capitalism as being completed projects. The third part of the course covers indigeneities that emerge from the growing relevance of transnational relations of people, capital, and ideas. We will consider indigeneity as a result of trans-local fields of tension and collaboration. Throughout the course, we will discuss these approaches as we analyze case studies from Canada and across the globe without disregarding intersections of indigeneity with gender, age, class, and subalternity.


This course will introduce students to some of the core discussions developed by social theorists and we will discuss their utility for understanding the commonalities and differences in indigenous experience in the present. The course will help students to build a number of skills that are essential to becoming social scientists working in research, teaching or as applied professionals. Through participation in this course, students will
• Become familiar with concepts, theorists, and schools of thought that are central to the study of the colonial systems in which indigeneity has been constituted. Examine the way indigenous thinkers have contested but also co-constructed these perspectives.
• Develop criteria for testing the analytical strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to the study of different social problems of indigenous people from North America and across the globe.
• Approach applied dimensions of the work as part of or alongside indigenous communities and people within and outside academia.
• Refine advanced writing skills. Practice oral communication and presentation skills.


  • Class Participation 10%
  • Group Presentation and blog post 15%
  • Take-home exam (2 x 20%) 40%
  • Final Paper proposal and recorded presentation 5%
  • Final Paper 30%


Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.


This course will be delivered via online platforms, such as Zoom, Canvas, etc.

Students are required to have a computer, with a microphone, webcam, and speakers. They also must have good access to the Internet.

Microsoft Office is required, and a free version of Office 365 is available to SFU students here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html.

Students will be required to upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.



Simpson, Audra. 2014. Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of Settler States. Durham: Duke. (available online at SFU library)

Coulthard, Glen. 2014. Red Skin White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: Minnesota.  (available online at SFU library)

• Lightfoot, Sheryl R. 2016. Global Indigenous Politics: A Subtle Revolution. New York, N.Y.: Routledge. (available online at SFU library)

Readings available on Canvas website.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).