Item Details

Colonial texts in post-colonial contexts: a genre in the contact zone

Issue: Vol 3 No. 1 (2007)

Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v3i1.87


This paper applies genre theory to nineteenth-century deeds used to appropriate land from indigenous people in British Columbia, Canada, and in Aotearoa New Zealand. These deeds have been the subject of intense scrutiny in legal and other settings via twentieth century interpretive strategies complicated and modified by postcolonial politics and cross-cultural pragmatics. Although focusing mainly on deeds used in B.C. in the 1850s, the paper also has in its purview other deeds and treaties in NZ and Canada. The analysis of these documents’ actions in colonial and postcolonial contexts concludes with a framing of genre that is not based on the mutual recognition of form and situation by genre participants, and indeed may even preclude it. This necessitates a further discussion of Miller’s (1984[1994]) conditions for making a genre claim, and ends with the positing of a special category of genres called contact genres.

Author: Shurli Makmillen

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