Imagining Alterity: The Historicity and Transformation of Knowledge in John Jewitt’s Captivity Narrative (1807-2015)

Principal Investigator: Thomas Schira, MA (IRTG Diversity, Trier University)

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ursula Lehmkuhl

Duration: since 2019

This dissertation project analyzes the historicity and transformation of knowledge about Canadian First Nations produced in John Jewitt’s “captivity narrative” (1807) and its manifold adaptations. The focus hereby lies on the main aspects of the inherent knowledge production: The construction of alterity and identity. The resulting knowledge had a profound influence on the discourse about First Nations of the Pacific Northwest while itself being influenced by this discourse. Thus, the analysis of Jewitt’s journal and its adaptions can show the circulation of knowledge, its discursive nature, and the historical nature of the construction of First Nations as Other. By understanding alterity and identity as complex constructions, which are formed by a number of interdependent markers and which interact in a dynamic multi-relational network, the project analyzes different articulations of difference – focusing on the process of othering rather than on its products.