The Demise of the Beothuk as a Past Still Present

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    This article aims to investigate contemporary cultural representations of the Beothuk Indians in art, literature and museum displays in Newfoundland, Canada, focussing on ways these reimagine the past for the present, offering perspectives on contested histories, such as the circumstances leading to the demise of the Beothuk. Wiped out through the impact of colonialism, the Beothuk are the 'absent other‘ who continue to be remembered and made present through the creative arts, largely at the expense of other indigenous groups on the island. Rather than focussing on the 'non-absent past‘, according to Polish scholar Ewa Domańska, 'instead we turn to a past that is somehow still present, that will not go away or, rather, that of which we cannot rid ourselves‘ (2006, 346). Depictions of the last Beothuk are part of a cultural remembering where guilt and reconciliation are played out through media of the imagination.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-139
    JournalJournal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


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