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Michelle Lelievre

Associate Professor of American Studies & Anthropology

Office: Room 201b Washington Hall and Samuel E Jones House Room 216
Phone: 757-221-1957
E-mail: [[malelievre]]
Areas of specialization: Mobility; Indigenous sovereignty; Political subjectivity; Socio-cultural theory; Space, place and landscape; Northeastern North America; Decolonizing pedagogies and collaborative research methods; Heritage and museum studies; History of anthropology and archaeology; Oral history


I am an anthropologist studying the colonial and post-colonial experiences of indigenous peoples in northeastern North America, particularly the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia. I use an intra-disciplinary approach to examine how mobility has mediated socio-political relationships between indigenous and settler populations. I am particularly interested in documenting how mobile peoples construct place over time. Because I take a long-term perspective on the relationship between mobility and politics in settler colonies, my fieldwork integrates archaeological survey and excavation, participant observation, open-ended interviews, and extensive archival research. My work is inspired by, and critical of, the legacy of anthropological research on traditionally hunting, gathering and fishing peoples in the Northeast. Hence my teaching and research interests extend to the history of anthropology, indigenous cosmologies, decolonizing pedagogies, collaborative research methods, palaeogeology, and social and political theories of subjectivity and sovereignty.

My first book, Unsettling Mobility: Mediating Mi'kmaw Sovereignty in Post-Contact Nova Scotia (2017), examines how mobility has complicated, disrupted, and—at times—supported a contradiction at the core of the settler colonial project; namely, that the attempts of settler institutions to assimilate indigenous peoples have served to mark these peoples as “Other” than the settler majority. Drawing on archaeological, ethnographic, and archival fieldwork conducted with the Pictou Landing First Nation (one of thirteen Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia) Unsettling Mobility demonstrates that, for the British Crown and the Catholic Church, mobility has been required not only for the settlement of the colony, but also for the conversion and continued management of the Mi’kmaq.

My current research has been developed in collaboration with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia. Our project includes indigenous and non-indigenous researchers. We apply, what Mi'kmaw elders Albert and Murdena Marshall describe as, "Two-Eyed Seeing" to our collection of oral histories, our examinations of archival records, and our planning and execution of archaeological excavations to document the long-term presence of Mi'kmaq on Nova Scotia's Chignecto Peninsula.

PhD, Anthropology, University of Chicago (2012); MPhil, Archaeology, University of Cambridge (2000); BA, Anthropology and Classical Archaeology, McGill University (1998)
Select Publications

2017    Unsettling mobility: Mediating Mi'kmaw Sovereignty in Post-contact Nova Scotia. Tucson:             University of Arizona Press.

2017    Temporal Changes in Marine Shellfish Use? A preliminary archaeological perspective                      from the Northumberland Strait. Journal of the North Atlantic. Special Volume 10: 42-58.

2017    Constructing a Sacred Chronology: How the Nova Scotian Institute of Science Made                   the Mi'kmaq a People Without Prehistory. Ethnohistory. 64(3):401-426.

2015    (with Maureen E. Marshall). "Because Life It Selfe is but Motion:" Toward an anthropology                of mobility. Anthropological Theory. 15(4):434-471.

2013    (with Peta J. Mudie). Palynological Study of a Mi'kmaw Shell Midden, Northeast Nova                    Scotia, Canada. Journal of Archaeological Science. 40:2161-2175.

Courses offered

Anthropology course offerings: 
ANTH 150W - Interrogating Hunter-Gatherers
ANTH 201/COLL 200 - Introduction to Archaeology
ANTH 350 - Political Anthropology
ANTH 470 - Indigenous Archaeology
ANTH 600 - Socio-Cultural Theory (graduate)

American Studies courses offerings: 
AMST 150W - Excavating the Past
AMST 470/570 - Movement/Mobility/Migration (undergraduate/graduate)
AMST 410 - Williamsburg Documentary Project
AMST 661 - Introduction to American Studies (graduate)