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Midzain-Gobin Liam, PhD Candidate

Education

PhD: McMaster University, Department of Political Science - 2015 to present

MA: University of Ottawa, Department of Political Studies - 2013 to 2015

B.Soc.Sci: University of Ottawa, Department of Political Studies - 2008 to 2012

Research

My doctoral work sits at the intersection of International Relations and Settler Colonialism Studies, and engages a decolonial lens. The research examines the ways in which settler colonialism is embedded in contemporary relations of power and continually reproduced through ‘modern’ governance practices and mechanisms. This includes studying questions of representation and subjectivity, human and Indigenous rights, recognition, and supporting Indigenous responses to present-day colonial governance.

My dissertation does this by studying the processes of knowledge production and mobilization through policymaking. I argue that various types of data collection by the Canadian government contribute to the reproduction of settler colonialism, in particular by continuing to erase Indigenous knowledges, epistemologies, and ontologies from the policymaking process. Specific cases include demographic data collection tools, and land use policy in British Columbia. The project addresses two parallel, and perhaps contradictory, phenomena. That is, data collection can further reinforce settler colonial norms within indigenous communities through practices of epistemic violence, while at the same time also serving as a tool of empowerment for communities, especially when indigenous knowledges are made central in the writing of these tools.

I also maintain an active research agenda outside of my dissertation research, in which I have studied the way borders open decolonial possibilities, the impacts of digital technology on First Nations governance, international Indigenous rights, and the limitations of settler colonial reconciliation in Canada. All of my work is informed by a community-centric research methodology, which aims to help support the work of Indigenous communities in building decolonial futures.