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Harvey A Feit
Professor Emeritus, Anthropology

Harvey A. Feit

Working closely with Eeyou (James Bay Cree) People on ethnographic and engaged projects I learned about Eeyou everyday practices of surviving, resisting, exercising collective autonomy, governing and co-governing - amidst struggles with colonialism, treaty abrogation, dispossession, and pervasive ways of shaping conduct.

This included working intensively as an expert witness, researcher, program and policy developer, and advisor with Eeyou negotiators during their first decade of their treaty negotiations and implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, and I have continued to do so on an intermittent basis since. This stimulated joint projects exploring how Eeyou “ways of doing things” can shape the conduct of non-Eeyou governments and corporations, court hearings, transnational NGO collaborations, social economies, joint development agreements, and new co-governance regimes.

Other research explores Eeyou families’ understandings of ‘power,’ their practices of situated governance, and their ways of nurturing practical and ontological commensurabilities with non-Eeyou.

My questions and discussions with Eeyou about spirituality, and the interest of the family of the late Andrew, Joseph, Jr. and Eva Ottereyes of Waswanipi in recording a sacred ceremony to assist the understanding and continuation of the ceremony by future generations of Eeyou, led to filming a ceremony and a long collaboration to document, circulate and preserve the record.

Earlier and continuing research explores human – animal – land relations and how people seek to sustain the lands, worlds and ways of living that they value. Multi-year research with Waswanipi Eenou hunters showed how they were able to hunt intensively without generally depleting vulnerable game animals’ collective well-being.

My contributions to these projects have appeared in 2 co-edited volumes and over 75 book chapters, journal articles, reports and expert affidavits and testimonies. These include publications on:
- colonialism and its effects, alongside the continuation of Indigenous self-governance, everyday autonomies and resistance; and the pursuit of dialogues and co-governance;
- showing how nation state governments, and some Indigenous forms of governance, obscure or only partly acknowledge already existing and developing forms of state-Indigenous co-governance;
- researching, helping to design and documenting a basic income program to sustain an Eeyou social economy and substantial self-sufficiency of families living on the land;
- demonstrating flaws in optimal bio-economic modeling of subsistence hunting, and in modes of production models and histories of the evolution of sharing economies;
- critically challenging claims that Northern Indigenous People’s conservation of land and game animals has derived from non-Indigenous governments and corporate enterprises; and,
- documenting and exploring ways that Indigenous Peoples and engaged scholars can enhance existing dialogues, commensurabilities, and Indigenous co-governance.

Harvey Feit is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Professor Emeritus at McMaster and a co-founder of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster, and a member of the Adjunct Graduate Faculty, Indigenous Studies PhD, Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University.
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