The Impossibility of a Future in the Absence of a Past: Drifting in the In-Between


  • Sonja Boon Memorial University
  • Kate Lahey University of Toronto


drift, intimacy, decoloniality, kinning, refusal


In this collaborative paper, we bring the work of Billy-Ray Belcourt, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Dionne Brand, and M. NourbeSe Philip into conversation in order to consider the concept of drift. Drawing on drift as both metaphor and methodology, we argue that drifting is not aimless or passive, as dictionary definitions suggest; rather, as a form of refusal, to follow the work of Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang (2014a, 2014b), it can be understood as resistance to colonial gestures of capture and containment. Inherently mobile, drift revels in inadvertent assemblages and volatile juxtapositions that reveal the artifice of the worlds we currently inhabit, in the process making new worlds possible. In this way, we suggest that drift is necessarily decolonial, in that it is premised on different ways of interacting among human, non-human, and more-than-human. Working through themes of intimacy, love, origins, dirt, and accountings, we argue that drift can be more productively read as an agential mode of kinning, making, and thinking together.


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Author Biographies

Sonja Boon, Memorial University

Sonja Boon is Professor of Gender Studies, Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. An award-winning researcher, writer, and teacher, Sonja is interested in bodies, stories, identities, and theories, and has published on a variety of topics, from considerations of gender, class, embodiment, identity and citizenship in eighteenth-century medical letters, to breastfeeding selfies and virtual activism, vulnerability as longing in the writing of Hélène Cixous, auto/ethnography and the embodiment of maternal grief, and craftivism in the feminist classroom, among others. She is the author of two recent books: a critical memoir, What the Oceans Remember: Searching for Belonging and Home (WLU Press, 2019), and a collaborative book, Autoethnography and Feminist Theory at the Water’s Edge: Unsettled Islands (with Lesley Butler and Daze Jefferies, Palgrave, 2018).

Kate Lahey, University of Toronto

Kate Lahey is a PhD student at the Women & Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto. Kate’s research focuses on intergenerational trauma, sexual violence, memory, secrets and material culture in outport Newfoundland. Her research explores how intergenerational trauma reverberates through our memories, dreams, bodies and family relations as paradoxical legacies of both silence and deep psychic knowing. Kate is a Newfoundlander, front woman of the band Weary, arts writer, board member of Girls Rock NL, and co-director of St. John’s Womxn in Music.






Original Research