Chapter 12 Colonialism: Ruins

Drawing on work by Brian Dillon, Rebecca Solnit, Ann Laura Stoler, Toni Morrison and others, this chapter considers the possibilities of ruin and ruination.

Prompts and Activities

  1. What comes to mind when you think of ruins? Take a few minutes to free write about them, considering not only how they look, but how they might feel, sound, or smell.
  2. Following Eve Tuck and C. Ree (2013), this chapter considers the relationship between ruins and settler colonialism. How might ruins in your geographic location represent the hauntings of difficult histories?


Dilapidated fishing rooms, Petty Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Sonja Boon
ruins of a pier, Crow Head, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Sonja Boon
Iron Carcass of the S.S. Ethie, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Sonja Boon
decaying boat hull, Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Sonja Boon


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Blake, Raymond B. 2015. The resettlement of Pushthrough, Newfoundland, in 1969. Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 30.2: 220-45.

Brand, Dionne. 2001. A map to the Door of No Return: Notes to belonging. Toronto: Vintage Canada.

Dillon, Brian. 2011. Introduction. In Ruins, ed. Brian Dillon, 10-19. Cambridge: MIT Press; London: Whitechapel Gallery.

Ferreday, Debra and Adi Kuntsman. 2011. Haunted futurities. Borderlands E-journal 10.2: no page.

Goldman, Marlene. 2012. DisPossession: Haunting in Canadian fiction. Ebook. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Gordon, Avery. 2011. Some thoughts on haunting and futurity. Borderlands E-journal 10.2: no page.

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Manning, Susan M. 2017. Contrasting colonisations: (Re)storying Newfoundland/Ktaqmkuk as place. Settler Colonial Studies. Online First. doi: 10.1080/2201473X.2017.1327010.

Mayda, Chris. 2004. Resettlement in Newfoundland, again. American Geographcal Society’s Focus on Geography 48.1: 27-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1949-8535.2004.tb00133.x.

Million, Dian. 2009. Felt theory: An Indigenous feminist approach to affect and history. Wicazo Sa Review 24.2: 53-76. doi: 10.1353/wic.0.0043.

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.

Philip, M. NourbeSe. 1989. Discourse on the logic of language. In She tries her tongue, Her silence softly breaks, 55-60. Charlottetown: Ragweed Press.

Picon, Antoine. 2000. Anxious landscapes: From the ruin to rust. Trans. Karen Bates. Grey Room 1: 64-83. doi: 10.1162/152638100750173065.

Regenspan, Barbara. 2014. Haunting and the educational imagination. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Savage, Candace. 2012. A geography of blood: Unearthing memory from a prairie landscape. Vancouver: Greystone Books.

Solnit, Rebecca. 2011. The ruins of memory. In Ruins, ed. Brian Dillon, 150-52. Cambridge: MIT Press; London: Whitechapel Gallery.

Stoler, Ann Laura. 2008. Imperial debris: Reflections on ruins and ruination. Cultural Anthropology 23.2: 191-219. doi:10.1525/can.2008.23.2.191.

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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.

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.

Tuck, Eve and C. Ree. 2013. A glossary of haunting. In Handbook of autoethnography, eds. Stacey Holman Jones, Tony E. Adams, and Carolyn Ellis, 639-58. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.

“un’settle, v.” OED Online. Jan 2018. Oxford University Press. Accessed 20 February 2018.

Wolochatiuk, Tim. 2012. We were children. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada; Eagle Vision; Entertainment One.


(c) Sonja Boon, Lesley Butler, and Daze Jefferies, 2018.