Unsettling Canadian Art History affirms the importance of collaborative conversations and work in the effort to unsettle scholarship in Canadian art and culture.

Bringing together fifteen scholars of art and culture, Unsettling Canadian Art History addresses the visual and material culture of settler colonialism, enslavement, and racialized diasporas in the contested white settler state of Canada.

This collection offers new avenues for scholarship on art, archives, and creative practice by rethinking histories of Canadian colonialisms from Black, Indigenous, racialized, feminist, queer, trans, and Two-Spirit perspectives. Writing across many positionalities, contributors offer chapters that disrupt colonial archives of art and culture, excavating and reconstructing radical Black, Indigenous, and racialized diasporic creation and experience. Exploring the racist frameworks that continue to erase histories of violence and resistance, Unsettling Canadian Art History imagines the expansive possibilities of a decolonial future.

Contributors include Mark A. Cheetham (University of Toronto), Dayna Danger (, Leah Decter (NSCAD University), Sylvia Hamilton (, Adrienne Huard (University of Manitoba), DJ Fraser (MacEwan University), Andrew Gayed (OCAD University), Lindsay McIntyre (Emily Carr University of Art and Design), Erin Morton (University of New Brunswick), Charmaine Nelson (NSCAD University), Carmen Robertson (Carleton University), Shaista Patel (University of California, San Diego), Henry Adam Svec (Waterloo University), Carla Taunton (NSCAD University), and Travis Wysote (Concordia University).

Cover art by Dayna Danger

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For Folk’s Sake: Art and Economy in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia is a radical re-examination of art and capitalism in the cultural hierarchy of the twentieth century. By interrogating the affective pull of folk art, For Folk’s Sake reconstructs the relationships that emerged between relatively impoverished self-taught artists, a new brand of middle-class collector, and academically trained professors and curators in Nova Scotia’s most important art institutions.

Folk art emerged in twentieth-century Nova Scotia not as an accident of history, but in tandem with cultural policy developments that shaped art institutions across the province between 1967 and 1997. For Folk’s Sake charts how woodcarvings and paintings by well-known and obscure self-taught makers – and their connection to handwork, local history, and place – fed the public’s nostalgia for a simpler past.

The artists examined here range from the well-known self-taught painter Maud Lewis to the relatively anonymous woodcarvers Charles Atkinson, Ralph Boutilier, Collins Eisenhauer, and Clarence Mooers. These artists are connected by the ways in which their work fascinated those active in the contemporary Canadian art world at a time when modernism – and the art market that once sustained it – had reached a crisis. As folk art entered the public collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the private collections of professors at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, it evolved under the direction of collectors and curators who sought it out according to a particular modernist aesthetic language. Morton engages national and transnational developments that helped to shape ideas about folk art to show how a conceptual category took material form.


Negotiations in a Vacant Lot: Studying the Visual in Canada (co-edited with Lynda Jessup and Kirsty Robertson) asks is “Canada” – or any other nation – still relevant as a category of inquiry? Is this simply one of many “vacant lots” where class, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality interact? What happens to the project of Canadian visual history if we imagine that Canada, as essence, place, nation, or ideal, does not exist?

The argument that culture is increasingly used as an economic and socio-political resource resonates strongly with the popular strategies of “urban gurus” such as Richard Florida, and increasingly with government policy. Such strategies both contrast with, but also speak to traditions of Canadian state support for culture that have shaped the national(ist) discipline of Canadian art history. The authors of this collection stand at the multiple points where national culture and globalization collide, however, suggesting that academic investigation of the visual in Canada is contested in ways that cannot be contained by arbitrary borders.

Bringing together the work of scholars from diverse backgrounds and illustrated with dozens of works of Canadian art, Negotiations in a Vacant Lot unsettles the way we have used “nation” to examine art and culture and looks ahead to a global future.

Contributors include Susan Cahill (Nipissing University), Mark A. Cheetham (University of Toronto), Peter Conlin (Academia Sinica, Taipei), Annie Gérin (Université du Québec à Montréal), Richard William Hill (York University), Kristy A. Holmes (Lakehead University), Heather Igloliorte (Concordia University), Barbara Jenkins (Wilfrid Laurier University), Alice Ming Wai Jim (Concordia University), Lynda Jessup (Queen’s University), Erin Morton (University of New Brunswick), Kirsty Robertson (Western University), Rob Shields (University of Alberta), Sarah E.K. Smith (Queen’s University), Imre Szeman (University of Alberta), and Jennifer VanderBurgh (Saint Mary’s University).

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Erin Morton, “When Salmon meets Saran Wrap: Mary Pratt, Settler Colonial Placidity, and Anti-Relationality in Ktaqmkuk,” Public: Art, Ideas, Culture 64 (2021): 111-120.

Erin Morton, “White Settler Death Drives: Settler statecraft, White Possession, and Multiple Colonialisms under Treaty 6,” Cultural Studies 33, no. 3 (2019): 437-459.

Travis Wysote and Erin Morton, “‘The Depth of the Plough’: Settler Hauntings and Pioneer Lies,” Settler Colonial Studies 9, no. 4 (2019): 479-504. Co-authored with Travis Wysote.

Heather Igloliorte, Alice Ming Wai Jim, Erin Morton, Charmaine A. Nelson, Cheli Nighttraveller, AJ Ripley, Carla Taunton, and Tamara Vukov with Susan Cahill and Kristy Holmes, “Killjoys, Academic Citizenship, and the Politics of Getting Along,” TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 38 (Fall 2017): 187-208.

Erin Morton, “Not a Vacation, But a Hardening Process: The Self-Empowerment Work of Therapeutic Craft in Nova Scotia,” Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research 6 (2014): 773-789.

Erin Morton, “Commemorative Expectations: The Mixed Economy of the Maud Lewis Painted House Preservation,” Acadiensis: Journal of the History of the Atlantic Region 43, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 2014): 3-34.

Erin Morton, “Ordinary Affects: Maud Lewis and the Social Aesthetics of the Everyday,” Journal of Canadian Art History 34, no. 2 (Spring 2014): 80-107.

Erin Morton, “Bordering the Vernacular: J. Russell Harper and the Pursuit of a ‘People’s Art,’” Journal of Canadian Art History 34, no. 1 (Fall 2013): 86-125.

Erin Morton, “The Object of Therapy: Mary E. Black and the Progressive Possibilities of Weaving,” Utopian Studies 22, no. 2 (2011): 321-340.

Erin Morton and Taryn Sirove, “Structuring Knowledges: Caching Inuit Architecture through Igloolik Isuma Productions,” Post Script: Essays in Film and the Humanities 29, no. 1 (2010): 58-69. Co-authored with Taryn Sirove.

Book Chapters

Erin Morton, “Rural,” in Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment, eds. Imre Szeman, Jennifer Wenzel, and Patricia Yaeger. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. 300-306.

Lynda Jessup, Erin Morton, and Kirsty Robertson, “Rethinking Relevance: Studying the Visual in Canada,” in Negotiations in a Vacant Lot: Studying the Visual in Canada. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014. 3-20.

Erin Morton, “Preposterous Histories of the Present,” in Negotiations in a Vacant Lot: Studying the Visual in Canada. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014. 21-30.

Erin Morton and Taryn Sirove, “On Collectivity: Caching Igloolik Video in the South,” in Reverse Shots: Indigenous Film and Media in an International Context, eds. Susan Knabe and Wendy Pearson. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014. 199-217. Co-authored with Taryn Sirove.

Erin Morton and Sarah E.K. Smith, “Precarious Life: On Dwelling, Mobility, and Artistic Intervention,” in Habitus of the Hood, eds. Hans Skott-Myhre and Chris Richardson. Chicago and Bristol, UK: University of Chicago Press and Intellect Ltd., 2012. 67-94.

Erin Morton, “‘Eight Days Before the Election’: Politicians, Culture Industries, and Folk Art in Nova Scotia,” in The Sixties in Canada: A Turbulent and Creative Decade, ed. M. Athena Palaeologu. New York and Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2010. 340-362.

Erin Morton, Lindsay Leitch, Emily Rothwell, Taryn Sirove, Andrea Terry, and Michelle Veitch, “cache: Provisions and Productions in Contemporary Igloolik Video,” in Global Indigenous Media: Cultures, Practices and Politics, eds. Pamela Wilson and Michelle Stewart. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008. 74-88.

Review Essays

Erin Morton, “Views from Off Centre: The Cultural Work of Film and Television Studies in Canada,” Acadiensis: Journal of the History of the Atlantic Region 40, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 2011): 89-96.

Contemporary Art Periodicals

Erin Morton and Taryn Sirove, “Igloolik Isuma Productions and Félix Lajeunesse & Paul Raphaël’s ‘Tungijug: What We Eat’” Numéro Cinq Magazine VI, no. 3 (March 2013):

Erin Morton, “In Pursuit of the Textbook Authentic: Erin Morton in Conversation with Terrance Houle,” Fuse Magazine 31, no. 1 (2008): 26-34.

Erin Morton, “Thinking the Next Step: ‘Norval Morrisseau—Shaman Artist,’” Fuse Magazine 29, no. 4 (2006): 38-41.

Erin Morton, Lindsay Leitch, Emily Rothwell, Taryn Sirove, Andrea Terry, and Michelle Veitch“Persevering Realpolitik: A Conversation with Marie-Hélène Cousineau of Arnait Video Productions,” Fuse Magazine 28, no. 3 (2005): 15-19.

Exhibition Catalogues & Catalogue Essays

Erin Morton, “Maud Lewis: Painted Cookie Tin with Flowers, 1960s,” in The Artist Herself/L’Artiste Elle-Même, by Alicia Boutilier and Tobi Bruce (Kingston and Hamilton: Agnes Etherington Art Centre and Art Gallery of Hamilton, 2015), 121.

Erin Morton, Forced Nomads and Modern Travel: Considering the Architecture of Survival. Kingston, ON: Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, 2008.

Erin Morton, Kent Monkman’s Frontier: The Wanderings of an Artist in the Postcolonial Landscape. Kingston, ON: Union Gallery, 2007.

Erin Morton, Taryn Sirove, Lindsay Leitch, Emily Rothwell, Andrea Terry, and Michelle Veitch. cache: Three Contemporary Videos from Igloolik. Kingston, ON: Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 2005.

Book Reviews

Erin Morton, “Review of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Canada: American Philanthropy and the Arts and Letters in Canada by Jeffrey Brison,” Journal of Canadian Art History 28 (2007): 116-119.

Erin Morton, “Review of Rolph Scarlett: Painter, Designer, Jeweller by Judith Nasby,” University of Toronto Quarterly 76, no.1 (2007): 555-556.