Mohawk Girls Essay

1049 words - 5 pages

The Kahnawake Native reserve lies on the outskirts of Montreal, connected only by the Mercier Bridge over St Lawrence River. Kahnawake is the hometown of three Mohawk teens – Amy, Lauren and Felicia, whose trails and trivialities of their teenage years are reflected upon and documented in the film Mohawk Girls. In this essay I will analyse Tracey Deer’s film Mohawk Girls (2006) to critically explore what it means to be a Mohawk Girl in Canada today. Following the years of three teenage girls navigating through high school, I will observe how this is largely influenced by the concept of identity across vastly diverse geographies. Then, I argue that by analysing Mohawk Girls in the context ...view middle of the document...

Thereby, giving her community, peers and others around her to define who she is and more importantly who she is not . This observation is also central to the analysis of identity in the film – and the issue is highly contentious as it is racialized. Lauren’s identity is determined through biology, something that has been largely discredited throughout history as a simplistic and ahistorical point of view . However, Lauren believes that identity is not based in blood or biology. By claiming that language, place and social scripts play a central role to constructing identity, she solidifies the concept that geography and identity is linked to mobility and others perceptions of you. As Lauren leaving her geography of the Kahnawake reserve influenced how her community perceived her, this illustrates on how both geography and place are inextricably linked to identity.

Maps are often seen as something unchanging and static. Yet, the case of Mohawk Girls, we see that these maps can be sculpted largely by both internal and external factors. An important part of the documentary for me is how the places and spaces of the Kahnawake Reserve are defined within wider Montreal and Quebec.
The experiences of these Mohawk teenagers in the wider context of their space and place illustrate an important geographical concept coined by David Harvey and elaborated by the geographer Doreen Massey. Time-space distantiation is a phenomenon that describes how global advances can both speed up or slow down temporal differences in geographies. These can be defined as the global advances in technological development, particularly in telecommunications and the Internet. I argue this is central to mapping identities, which may inhabit the same geography, yet simultaneously exist vastly different places and worlds.

This becomes pronounced in the film when Felicity talks about living in Kahnawake like ‘living in a bubble’ – further solidified by her discussion of living in Quebec, yet having no knowledge of the French language. By not mainstreaming French into the Kahnawake Survival School the mobility and accessibility of the students are reduced from the beginning. A particularly striking part of the film for me is when Felicity says...

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