2022-2023 Polyani Prize in Literature
Dr. Isabella Huberman’s extensive experience working with Indigenous youth and leading canoe trips on Canada’s northern rivers spurred her research interests in the effects of hydro development on Indigenous lands and communities. She completed a PhD on Indigenous literatures in Quebec in the French Department at the University of Toronto. From 2019 to 2020, as a UofT Postdoctoral Fellow, she undertook a media studies project that examined how Francophone Indigenous artists recuperate visual material from colonial archives to create new artworks. From 2020 to 2022, she held a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Manitoba. For this interdisciplinary and comparative research project, she examined a body of literary and cinematic works to explore the ecopolitical visions of Indigenous filmmakers and writers from Quebec and Manitoba, two regions that have experienced major hydroelectric development.
Dr. Huberman’s current research extends this work: bridging English-language and French-language Indigenous artistic and literary production, her work analyses archival documents, public art, literature and film to address how Indigenous creators call into question colonial perspectives on the benefits of hydro power and, in their place, put forward narratives that celebrate kinship, lands and stories. The overarching goal is to contribute to a deeper comprehension of Indigenous critiques of resource extraction in a settler colonial society. Currently, she collaborates with the Acimotan research team, an alliance of scholars and community members investigating the gendered impacts of hydro in Manitoba Indigenous communities through storytelling.
Striving to promote bilingual scholarship, she has published numerous articles in both English and French. She is the author of Histoires souveraines: poétiques du personnel dans les littératures autochtones au Québec (Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 2023). One of the few monographs written in French dedicated to Francophone Indigenous literature, Histoires sourveraines is a study of how Innu, Cree and Wendat writers call into question myths that circulate around Indigeneity, language and race.