Native American Narratives in a Global Context: Comparative and Transnational Perspectives

Call for Article Proposals for a Special Issue to Appear in Transmotion

In the contemporary moment, the world has seen an increase in transnational and decolonial activist movements around indigenous rights. Idle No More, Rhodes Must Fall, the BDS movement for a Free Palestine and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests have all garnered international attention and trans-indigenous calls of solidarity. These politics have found their ways to literary productions, and many have dubbed the increase in Native American writings and the rapid growth in Indigenous Studies a cultural, literary, and academic renaissance.

In recent years, there has been an increase in Native American scholarship that attempts to consider separate and distinct histories, cultures and literatures in a comparative frame. In 2011, Daniel Heath Justice observed the number of Indigenous Studies scholars globally, “reaching out, learning about themselves and one another, looking for points of connection that reflect and respect both specificity and shared concern.” Jodi A Byrd, in The Transit of Empire (2011), employs the concept “transit” to describe the interconnectedness and continuum of colonial violence that implicated multiple peoples and spaces. In 2012, Chadwick Allen established the concept ‘Trans-Indigenous’ to develop a methodology for a global Native literary studies and, elsewhere, scholars have explored the potential for comparing Native American socio-historic perspectives with those of other colonized and oppressed people. In his latest book (2016), Steven Salaita adopts “inter/nationalism” as a term that embodies decolonial thought and expression, literary and otherwise, that surface in the intersectional moments between American Indian and Palestinian struggles. Similarly, there is a long tradition of Native American Indigenous authors exploring the transnational politics of oppression and the multidirectional movement of memory (Rothberg, 2008) in fiction, poetry and on stage: from Leslie Marmon Silko’s transcontinental decolonial revolution in Almanac of the Dead (1991) to Sherman Alexie’s reflections on Indigenous and Jewish experiences of genocide in ‘Inside Dachau’ (2011). These academic and creative projects cross the traditional disciplinary boundaries of indigenous, postcolonial, and settler colonial studies, bringing together histories and cultures that have rarely been considered alongside one another. But what, if any, is the relationship between these cultures? What is to be gained from studying, ostensibly at least, disparate literatures and societies in the same frame?

This special issue seeks to explore this new direction of Indigenous Studies, focusing on the significance of Native American, First Nations, and Indigenous American narratives in a global arena. We invite work that engages with historical or cultural narratives, spanning literature, art, film, or other modes of cultural production. Bringing together scholars researching Native American narratives in relation to diverse geographical and historical contexts, we hope to interrogate questions surrounding what comparative indigenous studies might look like and what potential it holds for transnational exchange on a global scale. A comparative focus foregrounds the distinct but interconnected experiences of (post-) colonial and disenfranchised communities across the world. A lens of this kind can expand and ask global questions on what it means to be native in specific colonial spaces and the ways through which one can analyze literary expressions that work towards decolonization in these contexts.

Further details:

Deadline for Abstracts: Oct. 1, 2017

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