Krista Maxwell

Krista Maxwell

Krista Maxwell, Ph.D. (University of Toronto, 2011)
Assistant Professor, St. George Campus

*Not currently accepting new Ph.D. student supervisions in 2021-22

(416) 946-3324
Office: AP 208

Research Keywords: Social Cultural Anthropology; Medical Anthropology; Anthropology and History; Indigenous Studies; Settler Colonial Studies; Indigenous Law, Sovereignty, Kinship, Health, Healing, and Child Welfare in North America

Research Region: Canada; Treaty #3 Anishinaabe Territory; Wabaseemoong Independent Nations

Research Bio

My research centers on Indigenous social and political organising around wellness and healing, health care and child welfare, from mid-20th century to the present. My particular interest in Indigenous experiences of the Canadian welfare state is motivated by an analysis of settler-colonial interventions into Indigenous lives and territories as first, enactments of assimilation, settler-humanitarianism, and violence, but also, simultaneously, as potential substrates for new modes of Indigenous social and political relations.

I am exploring these themes in two ongoing projects. My more recent project (since 2011), Anishinaabe Kinship Law and the Canadian Child Welfare System: Social Histories and Sovereignty Struggles in Dialogue, is in collaboration with Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, and supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant. This project aligns with Wabaseemoong’s ongoing struggle to fully enact sovereignty over their children. Oral histories, archival research and ethnography will help to document the past, present and future of family life in this Treaty #3 reserve community. Anishinaabe experiences of and challenges to the child welfare system are a central theme. A major product of this research will be a community-based digital archive.

My second project is a book with the working title Native Healing: Indigenous Health Activism & the Liberal Settler State.   This is a social history of Native healing praxis in the province of Ontario, centered on how Indigenous political actors have acted to alleviate social suffering in their communities. I show how their navigations of dominant institutions, policies and discourses have entailed both assertions of Indigenous ontologies and sovereignties, and cooption of Indigenous discourses by agents of the Canadian settler state. Out of this messy nexus, I suggest, may emerge new forms of relationship and domination, as well as possibilities for social and political transformation at multiple scales.

Major Awards and Grants

2017-23 Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council Insight Grant ($233,006)
2014-16 University of Toronto Connaught New Investigator Award ($50,000)
2011-14 Social Science & Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant ($41,774)
2011-13 Social Science & Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship ($81,000)


2017 Maxwell, K. Settler, humanitarianism: healing the indigenous child-victim. Comparative Studies in Society and History 59(4): 974-1007. link; settlerhumanitarianism_healing_the_indigenous_childvictim-1

2014.  Maxwell, K. Historicizing historical trauma theory, troubling the trans-generational transmission paradigmTranscultural Psychiatry, 51 (3): 406-434.

2011. Maxwell, K. Ojibwe Activism, Harm Reduction and Healing in 1970s Kenora, Ontario: A Micro-history of Canadian Settler Colonialism and Urban Indigenous Resistance.  Comparative Program on Health and Society Working Papers Series 2009-2010, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.  ISBN 0-7727-0853-3.  Available online at

Other Significant Publications

2000. Anyebe W, Ebe M, Maxwell K. Sex, Shame & Poverty: Young People’s Sexual Health in Rural Benue.  Benue Health Fund Project Nigeria, Department for International Development UK.

1999. Maxwell K, Streetly A and Bevan D (1999) Experiences of Hospital Care and Treatment-seeking for Pain from Sickle Cell Disease: Qualitative Study.  British Medical Journal 318: 1585-90 (also reprinted in Western Journal of Medicine i. 171(5/6): 306-313).

1998. Ziebland S and Maxwell K. Not a “proper” solution? The gap between guidelines and users’ views about the safety of using emergency contraception.  Journal Health Services Research & Policy 3 (1):12-19.

1998. Maxwell K and Streetly A. Living with Sickle Pain: Sickle cell patients’ experiences of pain and pain management.   London: Guy’s King’s & St Thomas’ School of Medicine, Department of Public Health Medicine.  ISBN 1 869942 03 5.

Research Newsletters

Wabaseemoong-Families-Newsletter-web   The second in a series of newsletters reporting on-going research on the Treaty Three Anishinaabeg’s past and present relations with the Ontario child welfare system.

Graduate Students

Elisabeth Feltaous

Laura Beach

Completed Graduate Students

2016-17: Samuel Tait, MA. Counter-Mapping at the Borderlands: Indigenous GIS and Knowledge Co-Production in Ontario, Canada. Co-supervisor Tania Li.

2015-17: Kaitlyn Vleming, MSc. Femininity, ‘Male’ Hormones and Medicalization.

2014-15: Caitlyn Therrien, MA. “Why Can’t They Just Get Over It?” Addressing the Ramifications of Settler Colonialism. Co-supervisor Bonnie McElhinny.

2014-15: Sarah Spaner, MA. “My Heart, My Soul”: The Christian Theorizings of Samson Occom, Mohegan. Co-supervisor Valentina Napolitano.

2013-14: Erika Finestone, MA. Old Tools, New Sites: An Examination of Customary Care as an Adaptive Strategy  for Aboriginal Childcare in Contemporary Settler Nations. Co-supervisor Sandra Bamford.