Subaltern Voices Series

Speaking & Theorizing from the Disciplinary Margins


Dr. Catherine Kingfisher (Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Lethbridge)

Topic: “Homelessness and 'Drunken Indians' in a Prairie Town: Discourses, Destructuration, Individualization”

Date: Thursday, 9 November, 2006


Abstract:In this talk, I explore the conversations, debates, and constructions that inform and precede actual policy formation regarding homelessness in a small Canadian prairie city. Based on analyses of videotapes of public hearings coupled with participant observation and interviews with decision-makers, my discussion focuses on two related phenomena: first, the interactional production, via indexicality and omission, of an unmarked categorization of the homeless person as male Aboriginal addict; and second, the destructuring, individualizing influences, in this context, of discourses of diversity. I conclude with a discussion of the policy implications of both phenomena, with particular emphasis on unintended consequences.

Bio: Catherine Kingfisher is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Lethbridge. She is the author of Women in the American Welfare Trap (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996), and editor of Western Welfare in Decline: Globalization and Women's Poverty (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), as well as of articles in American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Identities, and other journals. Her research interests include gender, personhood, policy, globalization, neoliberalism, and language and discourse. She works in Canada, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the U.S.