Tanya Tagaq Covers Nirvana: “Rape Me” and a History of Settler Colonial Violence


  • Ryan Shuvera Western University IASPM-Canada


Cover songs, Settler Colonialism, Sexual Violence, Settler Listening, Tanya Tagaq, Nirvana.


In 2016 Tanya Tagaq—an Inuk artist from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuutiaq), Nunavut, known for her performances of a style of throat singing—released her fourth studio album, Retribution. Retribution’s final song is a cover of Nirvana’s “Rape Me.” Tagaq’s version speaks to certain realities and violence faced by Indigenous women living in settler colonial North America. She urges that the song be heard in a new way. There are moments of admiration and moments of confrontation in the cover. Yet, it also calls back to Nirvana’s version. Ultimately, this paper examines Tagaq’s performance of “Rape Me” as a way of naming the sexual violence of colonialism and confronting ideas of reconciliation held by the settler state.

Author Biography

Ryan Shuvera, Western University IASPM-Canada

PhD Candidate, Theory and Criticism Lecturer, Department of English, French, and Writing



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