Sovereign Screens: Aboriginal Media on the Canadian West Coast.

In her new book from University of Nebraska Press, Sovereign Screens: Aboriginal Media on the Canadian West Coast, Kristin L Dowell explores the history and context for the innovative and influential indigenous media landscape in the Canadian pacific northwest. We cover a lot of ground in this discussion and her book is a fascinating overview of an important emergent community of storyteller and multimedia creative artists.

Kristin is appearing in Vancouver as a part of the Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival here:

6:00pm | Sovereign Screens Book Launch Reception

SFU Woodwards Cinema – 149 W. Hastings


While Indigenous media have gained increasing prominence around the world, the vibrant Aboriginal media world on the Canadian West Coast has received little scholarly attention. As the first ethnography of the Aboriginal media community in Vancouver, Sovereign Screens reveals the various social forces shaping Aboriginal media production including community media organizations and avant-garde art centers, as well as the national spaces of cultural policy and media institutions. 

Kristin L. Dowell uses the concept of visual sovereignty to examine the practices, forms, and meanings through which Aboriginal filmmakers tell their individual stories and those of their Aboriginal nations and the intertribal urban communities in which they work. She explores the ongoing debates within the community about what constitutes Aboriginal media, how this work intervenes in the national Canadian mediascape, and how filmmakers use technology in a wide range of genres—including experimental media—to recuperate cultural traditions and reimagine Aboriginal kinship and sociality.  Analyzing the interactive relations between this social community and the media forms it produces, Sovereign Screens offers new insights into the on-screen and off-screen impacts of Aboriginal media.


Kristin L. Dowell is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. She is a visual anthropologist who has worked as a film curator at several Native film festivals. Her articles have appeared in the journals American Anthropologist and Transformations and in edited volumes, including Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas. 


The Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival (VIMAF) recognizes and affirms the Unceded Coast Salish Territories of the Skwxwú7mesh, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

You can find out more about VIMAF by checking out


Sean Cranbury is the Executive Editor of Books on the Radio. He's also Founder and Creative Director of the Real Vancouver Writers' Series. Sean is General Manager at the legendary Storm Crow Tavern and consults with literary arts organizations on digital communications strategies.

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