Oct. 28, 2021

Congratulations to Cara Peacock!

Winner of the UCalgary Political Science 2020–21 Best Graduate Paper Prize!
City lights on water

Best Graduate Paper is awarded for the best paper written for a graduate course in the Department of Political Science, open to both master’s and doctoral students in any area of Political Science.

Cara Peacock’s paper was written for POLI 624 Advanced Seminar on Indigenous-State Relations in Canada and nominated by Dr. Gina Starblanket.


Cara, what was the title of the paper and can you give us a brief description of its main findings or arguments?

My paper, “The Psycho-Politics of Colonialism: The ‘Mad Indigenous Women’ (A Story in Three Parts)”, argues that psychiatry functions as a technology of colonial, gendered violence. My research found that Indigenous peoples have been historically institutionalized for reasons that are unrelated to mental illness, such as punishment for defying colonial authorities or for refusing to give up ceremonial or traditional ways. Additionally, women are often deemed ‘mad’ for failing to live up to patriarchal models of womanhood, and are more likely to be subjected to restraint, electroshock therapy, and psychosurgery. I argue that psychiatry marks Indigenous women as irrational, deviant, aggressive, and dangerous, thus legitimating violence against them and their containment within psychiatric institutions and prisons. I recount the story of my grandma Katherine Peacock, an Anishinaabekwe, who was deemed a mad, Indigenous woman and spent much of her adult life in mental institutions. I draw on her story to recover her knowledge, being, and humanity in the face of colonization’s attempt to snuff her out.

Swining by the river

Any tips on writing an excellent paper?

I suggest finding a topic that you are interested in and passionate about, this will make the process of researching and writing both easier and enjoyable. I also suggest doing extensive research to get a good understanding of existing literature and any potential oversights. Lastly, I suggest taking the time to talk with your professor to discuss your ideas and to get feedback, this will help to enrich your understanding and develop your arguments.

Can you tell us what’s next for you?

I am in the second year of my master’s and plan to pursue my PhD once I finish. I intend to continue on with my research interests in Indigenous women’s political organizing, Indigenous feminism, decolonization, and Western political thought at the nexus of race and colonialism.

Congratulations to Cara Peacock on your 2020–21 Best Graduate Paper Prize!

To find out more about our paper prizes and past prize winners, please visit the Political Science website.