Harvey A. Feit

McMaster University | Professor EmeritusMember since 1969

My Biography

My scholarly commitments and writing turn around understanding, and appreciation for, how Eeyou People, James Bay Cree, attend to human-animal-weather relations: how the Eeyou’s encompassing relationships and knowledge sustain their lives and ways of life, and how these relations shape their responses to colonialism.

I analyze Eeyou means of responding to colonialism while actively stewarding lands and animals, and securing the conditions to continue their way of life. At different times I have worked as a researcher, scholar, advisor, expert witness, political analyst, and program developer. And I write about anthropological engagement and its history.

Joint research with Eeyou land stewards, community members, and leaders contributes to scholarly debates about:

  • conservation systems outside Western science, and their histories;
  • Indigenous harvesters’ means of stewarding land and animals;
  • resilience of sharing economies with relations to market capitalism;
  • means of supporting land-based ways of living at risk from market intrusions and instabilities;
  • Indigenous knowledge and practices of respect for a living world without nature-culture distinctions.

This includes writings about Eeyou land stewards and leaders counter-colonial practices, and the possibilities and limits they encounter when mobilizing non-Eeyou legal systems, negotiating and implementing a modern treaty, challenging resource developers by creating risks in financial and resource markets and political centers, building alliances with public media and environmental movements, choosing to share the land with newcomers, and renewing Eeyou practices of governance. Eeyou draw on long histories of engagements with diverse colonial intrusions. Half a century after initiating new self-governing organizations to oppose the opening of their lands for hydro-electric and other developments, Eeyou are now better able to challenge, stop, or change colonial intrusions.

These works contribute to wide-ranging public as well as expert discussions and debates about:

  • the renewal of Indigenous law and governance, and the impacts of nation-state and international recognitions of Indigenous rights;
  • histories and theories of colonial effects on Indigenous societies, and of Indigenous counter-colonial practices;
  • ontological entailments in Indigenous responses to colonialism;
  • risks and possibilities for Indigenous Nations of neoliberal decentering of nation states and expanding corporate autonomies; and
  • co-governance as co-optation and as complement to inherent self-government.

My scholarship seeks to contribute to pluralizing social and political analyses and movements against colonialism, and has been informed by Indigenous Studies, feminism, anti-racism, and radical environmentalism.

I am Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at McMaster University, co-founder of Indigenous Studies programming at McMaster, former Adjunct Graduate Faculty for the Indigenous Studies PhD at Trent University, social science researcher and adviser with diverse Indigenous Nations, governments, and media, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.