Professor’s award-winning book has opportunity to become an audio book

Faculty of Arts
Indigenous
Indigenous law
Painting of colonial scene of a village by the water
Daniel Rück, an associate professor in the Department of History, wasn’t planning on making an audio version of his award-winning book, The Laws and the Land: The Settler Colonial Invasion of Kahnawà:ke in Nineteenth-Century Canada (UBC Press, 2021). An examination of Canada’s legal and environmental colonial relationship with one First Nation, the book chronicles how Canadian governments over time interfered with Indigenous law and government, and eventually imposed Indian Act law on its people and lands. However, when Kaniehti:io Horn, an actor from Kahnawà:ke (a Kanien'kehá:ka or Mohawk nation territory near Montreal), reached out to him to say that she wanted to do the voice acting if he ever made an audiobook, he agreed to give it a try.
Actor Kaniehti:io Horn
Actor Kaniehti:io Horn

From start to finish, the process took a year and involved a steep learning curve. Normally, a press would oversee transforming a print book into an audiobook, but Daniel’s publisher had never produced one. They gave him the green light to go ahead independently, and he figured out not only what to do, but also how to fund it. With the help of a Faculty of Arts Dissemination Grant, funding from the Institute for Indigenous Research and Studies, and his PER fund, he pulled together enough money to pay for the voice acting and studio fees. It took many months to coordinate Kaniehti:io Horn’s busy schedule with openings at Seratone Studio in Montreal. Upon completion of the audiobook in winter 2023, Daniel worked with Greg Horn, a producer from Kahnawà:ke, who uploaded it to several podcasting platforms, such as Spotify, Google and Apple. Knowing that many audiobook readers use Audible, Daniel then learned how to have it listed there, and it was recently added to public libraries.

One of the key advantages of this format is that it makes the book available to people who can’t or don’t like to read, or who simply prefer to have a book read to them if the option is there. This broadens the potential audience for a book: whereas academic books might have a readership of several hundred researchers, an audiobook can reach both weary academics with tired eyes and people who wouldn’t normally read such a book.

Daniel’s research methodology involves being accountable to the communities he researches, and he feels that this format has helped to make his work more accessible. A number of citizens of Kahnawà:ke who are interested in the history of their community have read and listened to the book, and he has received appreciative comments. Daniel says that, in hindsight, he’s really happy that Kaniehti:io Horn spurred him on to do this, and he’s thankful for her remarkable reading and ability to correctly pronounce Kanienʼkéha (Mohawk) words and names. While he never intended to embark on such a project, Daniel hopes that his experience can help others who might want to do something similar in the future.

 

You can find the audiobook of The Laws and the Land on AudibleSpotifyApple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

The Laws and the Land: The Settler Colonial Invasion of Kahnawà:ke in Nineteenth-Century Canada (UBC Press, 2021)

Book cover , The Laws and the Land: The Settler Colonial Invasion of Kahnawà:ke in Nineteenth-Century Canada (UBC Press, 2021)
Book cover , The Laws and the Land: The Settler Colonial Invasion of Kahnawà:ke in Nineteenth-Century Canada (UBC Press, 2021)