Live stream talk by Missy Molloy – March 7, 2024

“The Indigenous Feminist and Posthuman Genre Experiments of Danis Goulet, Lisa Jackson and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers”

Date: March 7, 2024 – 14:00-16:00 (ET)

Join us in person: WH 147,  Brock University

or attend virtually: LIVESTREAM LINK

Abstract: The hypervisibility of posthuman narratives and imagery in recent years demonstrates filmmakers’ and viewers’ attractions to “the pressing question of what it means to be human under the conditions of globalisation, technoscience, late capitalism and climate change.”[1] Moreover, narratives that feature humanity in crisis, most notably in dystopian science fiction, horror and related genre hybrids, are particularly aligned with critical posthumanism in that they draw attention to major flaws in human status quos to argue that only drastic change could possibly alter the existing (and dire) state of affairs. Indigenous women filmmakers are at the forefront of efforts to tailor cinematic genre conventions to the “pressing” concerns critical posthumanism targets. This talk specifically highlights the generic innovations of Danis Goulet (Cree-Métis), Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe), and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot/Sámi) to propose their relevance to posthuman theory.

Goulet’s Night Raiders (2021), a Canada/NZ (First Nations/Māori) co-production, is set in 2043 in a military-occupied North America; the protagonist, Niska (played by Tailfeathers), joins a band of Indigenous rebels to rescue her daughter, Waseese, who had been taken by the State. The film provocatively recasts dystopian conventions to draw attention to the unresolved historical traumas that seed them, in the process “reclaim[ing the] place [of Indigenous women] in an imagined future in space, on earth, and everywhere in between.”[2] Goulet also directed two pivotal episodes of the ground-breaking Indigenous television series Reservation Dogs, which successfully blend Indigenous feminism and generic innovation: “Mabel” (S2, Episode 4) seamlessly mixes realism and dark comedy to emphasise intergenerational struggles shared by the series’ women characters; and “Deer Lady” (S3, Episode 3), which is based on multiple tribes’ accounts of a hybrid woman/deer who enacts vengeance on men, utilises feminist horror to connect Deer Lady’s motivations to the traumatic legacy of American Indian boarding schools. Like Goulet, Jackson purposefully experiments with screen genre and media to raise questions that align with critical posthumanism, but from an Indigenous perspective. Her remarkably versatile screen work, which integrates immersive technologies, includes the multimedia installation Transmissions (2019), which situates familiar locations in Vancouver alongside unsettling natural and urban environments to prompt questions about possible Indigenous futures; Highway of Tears (2016), a 360-degree video that documents the infamous highway in British Columbia from where a shocking number of Indigenous women disappeared; Lichen (2019), an IMAX/3D documentary short that celebrates the remarkable resilience of the complex organism; and Savage (2009), a short genre mashup of musical and zombie elements that addresses the horror of Canada’s residential schools. Finally, the oeuvre of actor/director Tailfeathers is similarly generically versatile in its exploration of Indigenous feminist concerns, with A Red Girl’s Reasoning (2012) revitalising familiar rape-revenge tropes to stress the special vulnerability of Indigenous women to sexual violence; Bihttoš (Rebel, 2014) blending autobiography, live-action and animation to tackle her own family’s traumatic history (in particular, her Sámi father’s struggle to recover from residential school traumas in his native Norway); and Bloodland (2009) employing horror elements to simulate the brutality of colonial land exploitation. Drawing on Kali Simmons’ work, this talk asks, “how do Indigenous [women] filmmakers navigate the constraints/expectations of a genre…while also addressing their own political and cultural concerns?”[3] In the process, it answers Simmons’ call for greater attention to “Indigenous feminist interventions into humanism” (150) by examining the reinvigoration of posthuman screen storytelling in works centered on Indigenous women.

Author Bio: Missy Molloy is Senior Lecturer in film at Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand, where she lectures on women’s, queer, posthuman and activist cinemas. She is co-author of Screening the Posthuman (Oxford University Press 2023) and co-editor of ReFocus: The Films of Susanne Bier (Edinburgh University Press 2018). Her publications include “Indigenous Futurist and Women-Centred Dystopian Film” (Feminist Posthumanism and Postfeminist Humanism, Bloomsbury 2023), the video essay “Art Cinema’s Suicidal Posthuman Women” ([in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film & Moving Image Studies, forthcoming 2024), and “Indigenous Feminism Revitalizing the Long Take: Waru and The Body Remembers When  the World Broke Open” (Jump Cut 2021).

This talk is co-sponsored by PostHumanism Research Institute, PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities and the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film at Brock University.


[1] Stefan Herbrechter, “Critical Posthumanism,” Posthuman Glossary, edited by Rosi Braidotti, and Maria Hlavajova, Bloomsbury, 2018. 

[2] Rebecca Roanhorse, “Decolonizing Science Fiction and Imagining Futures: An Indigenous Futurisms Roundtable,”

[3] Simmons, Kali Christen. The Savage Screen: Horror, Indigeneity, and Settler Cartographies of Being. University of California, Riverside, 2021.

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