History •  Politics and Religion

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Louis Riel and the Creation of Modern Canada: Mythic Discourse and the Postcolonial State

Jennifer Reid

Since he was tried and hanged for treason in November of 1885, Louis Riel has been the subject of more histories, biographies, novels, and poetry than any other figure in Canadian history. Politician, founder of Manitoba, and leader of the aboriginal Métis people, Riel led two resistance movements against the Canadian government: the Red River Uprising of 1869-70, and the North-West Rebellion of 1885, in defense of Métis and other minority rights.
Against the backdrop of these legendary uprisings, Jennifer Reid examines Riel's religious background, the mythic significance that has consciously been ascribed to him, and how these elements combined to influence Canada's search for a national identity. Reid's study provides a framework for rethinking the geopolitical significance of the modern Canadian state, the historic role of Confederation in establishing the country's collective self-image, and the narrative space through which Riel's voice speaks to these issues.


Jennifer Reid is professor of religion at the University of Maine, Farmington. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa. She is the author of Myth, Symbol and Colonial Encounter, Worse Than Beasts: An Anatomy of Melancholy and the Literature of Travel in 17th and 18th Century England, as well as numerous articles in the history of religions. She edited the volume Religion and Global Culture: New Terrain in the Study of Religion.

Davíd Carrasco is Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America with a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology and the Divinity School at Harvard University. He was recently awarded the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle.


"Reid does a bang-up job of describing the intersection of (Riel's) politics and (his) vision of a New-World Catholic order."


Winnipeg Free Press

"Highly recommended."


Choice Magazine

6 x 9 in. 328 pages 3 maps