Colonialism: Ruins

  • Sonja Boon
  • Lesley Butler
  • Daze Jefferies


This chapter considers the conceptual potential of ruin and ruination. Drawing on the work of Brian Dillon, Rebecca Solnit, Toni Morrison, Ann Laura Stoler, Audre Lorde, Eve Tuck and C. Ree, this chapter suggests that ruins are unsettling but also, a necessary step towards social change. Indeed, ruin’s haunted, crumbling structures—material, metaphorical, and embodied—reveal the artifice of imperial and colonial processes and practices.


Ruin Ruination Unsettle Haunting 


  1. Bell, Trevor, and M.A.P. Renouf. 2005. Introduction. Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 20 (1): 1–7.Google Scholar
  2. Blake, Raymond B. 2015. The resettlement of Pushthrough, Newfoundland, in 1969. Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 30 (2): 220–245.Google Scholar
  3. Brand, Dionne. 2001. A map to the Door of No Return: Notes to belonging. Toronto: Vintage Canada.Google Scholar
  4. Dillon, Brian. 2011. Introduction. In Ruins, ed. Brian Dillon, 10–19. Cambridge: MIT Press; London: Whitechapel Gallery.Google Scholar
  5. Ferreday, Debra, and Adi Kuntsman. 2011. Haunted futurities. Borderlands E-Journal 10 (2): no page.Google Scholar
  6. Goldman, Marlene. 2012. DisPossession: Haunting in Canadian fiction. Ebook. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Gordon, Avery. 2011. Some thoughts on haunting and futurity. Borderlands E-Journal 10 (2): no page.Google Scholar
  8. Haddour, Azzedine. 2000. Colonial myths: History and narrative. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hanson, Erin. 2009. The residential school system. First Nations and Indigenous studies: The University of British Columbia. Accessed 21 Feb 2018.
  10. Jarvis, Brian. 1998. Postmodern cartographies: The geographical imagination in contemporary American culture. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  11. Lorde, Audre. 1984. Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press Feminist Series.Google Scholar
  12. Macedo, Donaldo, Bessie Dendrinos, and Panayota Gounari. 2003. The hegemony of English. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  13. Manning, Susan M. 2017. Contrasting colonisations: (Re)storying Newfoundland/Ktaqmkuk as place. Settler Colonial Studies. Online First.
  14. Mayda, Chris. 2004. Resettlement in Newfoundland, again. American Geographcal Society’s Focus on Geography 48 (1): 27–32. Scholar
  15. Million, Dian. 2009. Felt theory: An Indigenous feminist approach to affect and history. Wicazo Sa Review 24 (2): 53–76. Scholar
  16. Morrison, Toni. 2008. The Nobel lecture in literature. In What moves at the margin: Selected nonfiction, ed. Carolyn C. Denard, 198–207. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.Google Scholar
  17. Philip, M. NourbeSe. 1989. Discourse on the logic of language. In She tries her tongue, her silence softly breaks, 55–60. Charlottetown: Ragweed Press.Google Scholar
  18. Picon, Antoine. 2000. Anxious landscapes: From the ruin to rust. Trans. Karen Bates. Grey Room 1: 64–83. Scholar
  19. Regenspan, Barbara. 2014. Haunting and the educational imagination. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Savage, Candace. 2012. A geography of blood: Unearthing memory from a prairie landscape. Vancouver: Greystone Books.Google Scholar
  21. Solnit, Rebecca. 2011. The ruins of memory. In Ruins, ed. Brian Dillon, 150–52. Cambridge: MIT Press; London: Whitechapel Gallery.Google Scholar
  22. Stoler, Ann Laura. 2008. Imperial debris: Reflections on ruins and ruination. Cultural Anthropology 23 (2): 191–219. Scholar
  23. The Resettlement Program. 2006. The Newfoundland and Labrador heritage web site. Accessed 19 Feb 2018.
  24. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 2012. Canada, Aboriginal peoples, and residential schools: They came for the children. Winnipeg: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.Google Scholar
  25. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Phil Fontaine and Aimee Craft. 2016. A knock on the door: The essential history of residential schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.Google Scholar
  26. Tuck, Eve, and C. Ree. 2013. A glossary of haunting. In Handbook of autoethnography, ed. Stacey Holman Jones, Tony E. Adams, and Carolyn Ellis, 639–658. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  27. “unsettle, v.” OED Online. 2018, January. Oxford University Press. Accessed 20 Feb 2018.
  28. Wolochatiuk, Tim. 2012. We were children. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada; Eagle Vision; Entertainment One.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonja Boon
    • 1
  • Lesley Butler
    • 1
  • Daze Jefferies
    • 1
  1. 1.Memorial University of NewfoundlandSt John’sCanada

Personalised recommendations