Philosophy and Mohawk Girls

Based on the documentary of the same name directed by the award-winning filmmaker Tracey Deer (Mohawk), Mohawk Girls was a critically-acclaimed comedy-drama series (Tracey Deer, director) that, from 2014-2016, aired continuously through five seasons on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).

The main characters of the series were four Mohawk women, Anna, Bailey, Caitlin, and Zoe, who resided in Kahnawake, the First Nations reserve on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, across from Montreal.

Centred around the quests of the four women to find love, Mohawk identity, Indigenous traditions, sexual satisfaction, friendship, fulfilling employment, and community, the series comprises episodes that dealt with issues such as colonization, the Canadian government’s failure to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, fatness, abortion, discrimination, stereotypes of Indigenous people, mixed race, BDSM, self-esteem, racism, representation, and . . . the whiteness and Eurocentrism of philosophy.

At the end of the fifth episode of Season 3—an episode provocatively called “Going Native”—Anna, who is an undergraduate philosophy student (at McGill University), confronts her white Introduction to Philosophy professor about the Eurocentrism and whiteness of the course, challenging the exclusion of Indigenous and Black philosophers from the course’s syllabus and its lecture topics.

The professor defends his approach to philosophy, both explaining that an introduction to philosophy course should cover “the great thinkers” and advising Anna that she would probably be taught what she wants to learn in courses offered through the university’s Indigenous Studies and Black Studies departments.

No spoilers! You can find out yourself how Anna responded to her white professor.

Beginning in June, episodes of Mohawk Girls have rerun on CBC Gem and can be watched at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) website here. The episodes that make up Season 3 of the series began streaming at CBC Gem on September 11th. The episodes of Season 4 will begin to stream at CBC Gem on October 23rd. Season 5 begins to stream at CBC Gem on November 13th.

Watch the trailer to Season 1 of Mohawk Girls here. The closed captioning for the episodes is excellent.

Follow BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY on Twitter @biopoliticalph

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