logo irtg
 Version française  |  Search  |  Imprint  |  Contact   |

Christoph Laugs

Christoph Laugs
Address IRTG Diversity
University of Trier
DM 249
E-Mail laugs@uni-trier.de


Clothing and Cultures of Remembrance: Constructions and Articulations of Metisness in Saint-Boniface and Batoche, 1885-2008

(Supervisors: Ursula Lehmkuhl, Trier / Wolfgang Klooß, Trier / Carolyn Podruchny, York University, Toronto)

During the nineteenth century, communities of people who were of mixed First Nations and Euro-Canadian ancestries developed an extensive sense of belonging together. Although there had been many people of mixed descent on the prairies earlier, during the nineteenth century they developed family and community networks which became the backbone of Metis society.

In my dissertation, I am looking at the question of how clothing as an aspect of material culture is related to senses of belonging among Metis in three communities. This includes two processes which have a reciprocal effect on each other. On the one hand, I analyse how material culture produced and contributed to bonding mechanism among Metis family and community groups. For example, clothing was often made for close relatives and new in-laws to show affection and love. Additionally, as knowledge about production techniques was passed down form elders to the next generations, several family or community patterns and designs developed. On the other hand, I examine how material culture could be used as a representation of senses of belonging to a certain group. By wearing patterns or design elements that were typical for a given community or family, individuals demonstrated their belonging to that group. Moreover, during the nineteenth century, a distinct set of clothing developed that, notwithstanding variations, can be seen as typical for several Metis communities.

I have chosen clothing as an example of material culture because items of clothing combine aesthetic considerations and practical thoughts. In some cases, items continue to play an important role for Metis and although they no longer serve their original practical purposes, they are still used as accessories. Therefore, I am examining discrete items, such as moccasins or ceintures fléchées, as well as entire sets of clothing. Furthermore, I am analysing their role in Metis communities by connecting them to oral histories and autobiographies as well as travel reports, photographs, and other representations.

Current Activities

“Material Métissage: Moccasins as Example of the Materialisation of Influences on Metis Identity”, in: Paul Morris (ed.), Le Canada: une culture de Metissage / Transcultural Canada (Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval), 179-198.


Magister degree, title of the Magister's thesis: Between Fur Caps, French Women, and Foreign Affairs: Benjamin Franklin's Demeanour as Commissioner of the Court of Louis XVI, 1776-78.
2007 - 2008
Studies of History and Comparative American Studies at the University of Warwick (ERASMUS grant).
2004 - 2011
Studies of Anglo-American History, Modern History, and English at the University of Cologne.

Work Experience

11/2014 - 12/2014
Visiting Researcher Canadian Museum of History; Gatineau, Que., Kanada.
Visiting Researcher Royal Saskatchewan Museum; Regina, Sask., Kanada.
01/2014 - 02/2014
Visiting Researcher National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C., USA.
11/2013 – 12/2013
Visiting Researcher Canadian Museum of Civilization; Gatineau, Que., Kanada.
10/2013 – 11/2013
Visiting Researcher Royal Saskatchewan Museum; Regina, Sask., Kanada.
since 2013
Doctoral candidate in History with the IRTG Diversity, University of Trier, supervisors: Ursula Lehmkuhl, Wolfgang Klooß, Carolyn Podruchny.
2012 - 2013
Lecturer at the Anglo-American Departement of the School of History, University of Cologne.
Research assistant for the preparation of a third party funds application, International History, University of Trier.
2009 - 2010
Student assistant with the project on colonialism and African diaspora on picture postcards (SFB 427), University of Cologne.


(co-authored with Christian Schwartz and Robert Kieselbach) “Zum Gedenken an die glorreiche Regierung des großen Königs: Die Namensgebung der Düsseldorfer Friedrichstadt im Kontext von ‚Pferdeäpfelvorfall‘, kollektivem Gedächtnis und Erinnerungspolitik”, in: Düsseldorfer Jahrbuch 89, S. 25-52.
“Material Métissage: Moccasins as Example of the Materialisation of Influences on Metis Identity”, in: Paul Morris (ed.), Le Canada: une culture de Metissage / Transcultural Canada (Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval), 179-198.
"More than Canada150: The New Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History", in: ActiveHistory, 20/10/2017, http://activehistory.ca/2017/10/more-than-canada150-the-new-canadian-history-hall-at-the-canadian-museum-of-history/
„An Ongoing Ethnogenesis? Examining the Evolution of the Métis“ (Review Essay) in: Left History 19:2 (2015/16). 93-104, http://lh.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/lh/article/view/39348/35649
Review of: "Andersen, Chris: Metis. Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood. Vancouver 2014", in: H-Soz-Kult, 29.10.2015, http://www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/rezbuecher-24257

Conference Presentations

(Hi)stories of a Traitor, Martyr, and Statesman: The Representation of Louis Riel in Canadian Museums and Memory Culture
GeschichteN - HiStories - HistoireS, 39. Jahrestagung der GKS, Grainau,16-18/02/2018.
Indigenous Statesman and Martyr to the Metis People: Chester Browns’ Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography in the Context of Canadian Memory Culture
"A Long Time Ago On a Reservation Far, Far Away": Contemporary Indigenous Popular Culture across the Globe. International Conference, Universität des Saarlands, Saarbrücken, 01-03/06/2017.
Shaped by Land and Nature: Origins and Interpretations of Floral Decorations on Metis Clothing
Rethinking Diversity and Multiculturalism: Global and Local Challenges. 15th Jerusalem Conference in Canadian Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, 23-25/05/2016.
Revising Settler-Colonial Surveying: A Translocal view on Aboriginal Peoples and Land Surveys in 19th century Australia and Canada
(with Alexander Bräuer) Postcolonial Knowledges. Third Bremen Conference on Language and Literature in Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts, Bremen, 15-18/03/2016.
‘Many Threads to the Sash’: Transforming Meanings of the Ceinture Fléchée in Canadian History
Canada in a Changing World: New Perspectives on the Canadian Story. 12th Graduate Student Conference in Canadian Studies organised by the Young Scholars’ Forum Association for Canadian Studies in Germanspeaking Countries, Potsdam, 03-05/07/2015.
Adapting Metisness in Liminal Times: The Social and Cultural Strategies of the McKay Family during the Colonization of the Canadian Prairies
(with Aurelio Ayala) Networking Conference of the IRTGs Diversity and Entre Espacios: Liminality, Trier, 10-13/06/2015.
'A Patriotic Symbol of Métis Identity': Sashes in Manitoba and Saskatchewan since the Early Nineteenth Century
Seventh Annual Meeting of NAISA, Washington, DC, USA, 04-06/06/2015.
05/2015 - 06/2015
Everyday Clothing and Sunday Suits: Metis Clothing and the Display of Belonging, 1869-c.1900
Part of the mini-conference in Aboriginal History sponsored by the Aboriginal History Studies Group. Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting, Ottawa, Canada, 31/05-03/06/2015.
05/2014 - 06/2014
Brokers of Material Culture: the Métis in the Contact Zone of the Northern Great Plains during the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century
Crossing Boundaries in a Post-Ethnic Era – Interdisciplinary Approaches and Negotiations, 9th biennial MESEA conference, Saarbrücken, 29/05-01/06/2014.
Material Métissage: Moccasins as Materialisation of First Nations and White Influences on Métis Identity
Le Canada: une culture de métissage / Transcultural Canada, International Colloquium at the Université de Saint-Boniface, Winnipeg, Canada, 25-26/10/2013.
Clothes and Identities: Métis and other Aboriginal peoples Moccasins in the Canadian Prairie Provinces, c1840-1910
Visual Histories of the United States. Annual Conference of the Historians in the DGFA (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien/German Association for American Studies) Young Academics Forum, Tutzing, 08-10/02/2013.

Guest Lectures
Resistance through Clothing? Articulations of Metisness in Canada after 1885
Forschungs- und Examenskolloquium Geschichte, John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität, Berlin, 11/12/2017.
Clothing and Cultures of Remembrance: Constructions and Articulations of Metisness in Saint-Boniface and Batoche, 1885-2008
Power and Humanity: Contesting Notions of Human Rights and Humanitarianism in North America. Workshop, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, 18-19/09/2017.
Nineteenth-Century Metis Material Culture in the Red River Valley: Artefact Adoption, Translation, and Hybridisation
History of Indigenous Peoples Network at the Robarts Centre; York University; Toronto, Canada, 05/12/2014.
Vested Diversity: Metis Clothing in 19th Century Saskatchewan
Royal Saskatchewan Museum; Regina, Canada, 31/10/2014.
Logo Universität Trier Logo Université Montréal Logo Universität des Saarlandes