Dissertation Title:

Unsettling the Settler Shadow: An alchemical investigation of the transformation of settler colonial consciousness


Kira Celeste

Date, Time & Place:

July 13, 2021 at 10:00 am


One can argue that European colonial consciousness and its actions have caused more harm in the world than any other collective psychology. Grounded in the psychology of C. G. Jung, this research investigates the cultural complexes of white colonial consciousness and the possibility of finding healing for its dysfunctions through the tending of its psychological shadow. This research uses the historical landscape of what is now known as Canada as an example of how colonial consciousness has caused harm over the last half a millennium and how it continues to oppress Indigenous people and degrade the environment of so-called Canada. This research is based on the depth psychological tenet that stories and myths from one’s own ancestry can bring about deep change of perspective, healing and meaning-making. As such, this research investigates the question: how might an alchemical way of imagining into white settler colonial consciousness contribute to its psychological healing and accountability-taking today.

Alchemical models emphasize the importance of integrating one’s shadow material in the journey towards psychological wholeness. In alchemy, the muck of one’s psyche is worked over and over until eventually it is transmuted into the creation of inner gold. Likewise, the healing and transformation of colonial consciousness requires the tending of its most unsavory aspects. This dissertation suggests ways that alchemy provides a model for this undertaking and can lead to the psychological unsettling of the settler shadow today.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Jungian Archetypal Studies, N, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Safron Rossi
  • Reader: Dr. Sukey Fontelieu
  • External Reader: Dr. Megan Bulloch
  • Keywords: Depth Psychology, Colonialism, Decolonization, Alchemy, Jung, Canadian History, Antiracism, Reparations, Accountability, Unsettling