Browse

1 - 10 of 197 items :

  • European Languages, other x
  • Topics in Literary Studies x
Clear All
American Indian Languages in the Eyes of 17th-Century French and British Missionaries

Abstract

This paper examines 17th-century descriptions of Algonquian and Iroquoian languages by French and British missionaries as well as their subsequent reinterpretations. Focusing on such representative studies as Paul Le Jeune’s (1592–1664) sketch of Montagnais, John Eliot’s (1604–1690) grammar of Massachusett, and the accounts of Huron by Jean de Brébeuf (1593–1649) and Gabriel Sagard-Théodat (c.1600–1650), I discuss their analysis of the sound systems, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. In addition, I examine the reception of early missionary accounts in European scholarship, focusing on the role they played in the shaping of the notion of ‘primitive’ languages and their speakers in the 18th and 19th centuries. I also discuss the impressionistic nature of evaluations of phonetic, lexical, and grammatical properties in terms of complexity and richness. Based on examples of the early accounts of the lexicon and structure of Algonquian and Iroquoian languages, I show that even though these accounts were preliminary in their character, they frequently provided detailed and insightful representations of unfamiliar languages. The reception and subsequent transmission of the linguistic examples they illustrated was however influenced by the changing theoretical and ideological context, resulting in interpretations that were often contradictory to those intended in the original descriptions.

Open access
Junípero Serra’s Canonization or Eurocentric Heteronomy

Abstract

The article assesses the recent canonization of Junípero Serra, Spanish Franciscan missionary and founder of the California mission system. I begin by introducing the priest and outlining the genesis of his assignment. I then discuss the model of missions’ operation and problematize their results. The rise of Serra’s legend is situated within the historical context of California’s “fantasy heritage”. I later outline the chief arguments and metaphors mobilized by the Church in support of the new saint. In the central part of the essay, I address and critically examine the ramifications of a document Serra authored and which the Church took as the priest’s passport to sainthood. I argue that the document inaugurated the epistemic and social divides in California and, marking the Indian as homo sacer (Agamben), paved the way to the Indigenous genocide in the mission and American eras. Following this, I offer a semiological (after Barthes and Lakoff) interpretation of the canonization as a modern myth, argue that metaphors invoked in support of the priest inverted the historical role played by Serra and, finally, ponder the moral ramifications of this canonization.

Open access
Let Them Be Heard: Bringing Native American Experience Closer in Teaching

Abstract

Teaching about Native Americans, especially as a non-Native person, involves a number of complications. The experience and histories of Indigenous peoples have often been presented from the point of view of the Euroamerican hegemonic power and complicated by a long pattern of colonization, including education. As a result, Native peoples themselves as well as outsiders have been mostly exposed to the dominant culture’s perspectives of Native Americans, often being stereotyped and reductive. The aim of the present paper is to examine the theoretical frameworks advanced by American Indian scholars and educators who demonstrate the methods which expose colonization and show the fundamental Native concepts needed to be involved in the pedagogies concerning Indigenous people. The primary consideration is to be guided by Native peoples' own concepts in trying to avoid perpetuating the colonizing pattern. Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy (a Lumbee scholar and educator) advanced the Tribal Critical Race Theory, which offers a comprehensive framework which can provide useful guidelines for teaching about Native Americans. The paper also offers suggestions for implementing this framework in the classroom such as using contemporary Native American autobiographical writing, involving the concept of performance or digital resources like those developed by Craig Howe, an Oglala Sioux, and the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies. Exposing students to Native people through Indigenous people's own stories and resources may be helpful in presenting them as real people. Such an approach may help students to be able to hear and access Native peoples’ own voices sharing their lives, which can contribute to bringing their experience closer to students.

Open access
Native American and Indigenous Studies
Open access
Polish Indian Hobbyists and Cultural Appropriation

Abstract

This article attempts to describe the Polish-American Friends Movement (PAIFM) in the context of cultural appropriation. It first describes the history of the movement by linking it to the phenomenon of playing Indian, which started in the United States in the colonial period and then was transplanted to Europe in the late 19th century. Subsequently, it briefly presents the history of the Polish hobbyism movement in Poland, pointing out the historical, social, and psychological circumstances of its development. In the next part it defines the concept of cultural appropriation and its main types according to James Young (2010). The last part is devoted to a detailed analysis of different forms of activities of the PAIFM, especially the annual week gathering, as observed by the author during the 40th gathering of Polish Indian enthusiasts in 2016. Different types of cultural appropriation and an array of consequences resulting from such a positioning are discussed. In this paper it is argued that the negative undertones of the concept obscure the complexity of the movement as a cultural phenomenon and its multiple links with Native American cultures and their present political and cultural situation.

Open access
Processes of Survival and Resistance: Indigenous Soldiers in the Great War in Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road and Gerald Vizenor’s Blue Ravens

Abstract

Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road (2005) and Gerald Vizenor’s Blue Ravens (2014) offer literary representations of the Great War combined with life narratives focusing on the personal experiences of Indigenous soldiers. The protagonists’ lives on the reservations, which illustrate the experiences of racial discrimination and draw attention to power struggles against the White dominance, provide a representation of and a response to the experiences of Indigenous peoples in North America. The context of World War I and the Aboriginal contributions to American and Canadian wartime responses on European battlefields are used in the novels to take issue with the historically relevant changes. The research focus of this paper is to discuss two strategies of survival presented in Boyden’s and Vizenor’s novels, which enable the protagonists to process, understand, and overcome the trauma of war.

Open access
The Red and the Black: Images of American Indians in the Italian Political Landscape

Abstract

In Italy, over the last decades, both the Left and the Right have repeatedly employed American Indians as political icons. The Left and the Right, that is, both adopted and adapted certain real or often outright invented features of American Indian culture and history to promote their own ideas, values, and political campaigns. The essay explores how well-established stereotypes such as those of the ecological Indian, the Indian as victim, and the Indian as fearless warrior, have often surfaced in Italian political discourse. The “Indiani Metropolitani” student movement resorted to “Indian” imagery and concepts to rejuvenate the languages of the old socialist and communist left, whereas the Right has for the most part preferred to brandish the Indian as an image of a bygone past, threatened by modernization and, especially, by immigration. Indians are thus compared to contemporary Europeans, struggling to resist being invaded by “foreign” peoples. While both the Left and the Right reinvent American Indians for their own purposes, and could be said to practice a form of cultural imperialism, the essay argues that the Leftist appropriations of the image of the Indian were always marked by irony. Moreover, while the Right’s Indians can be seen as instances of what Walter Benjamin (1969) described as Fascism’s aestheticization of politics, groups like the Indiani Metropolitani tried to politicize the aesthetics.

Open access
Relics of the Unseen Presence? Evocations of Native American Indian Heritage and Western-Hero Road Poems in Bruce Baillie’s Mass for the Dakota Sioux and Quixote

Abstract

In this paper I discuss the ways in which Bruce Baillie’s Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964) and Quixote (1965) evoke Native American Indian heritage and western-hero road poems by challenging the concept of the American landscape and incorporating conventions traditionally associated with cinéma pur, cinéma vérité, and the city symphony. Both pictures, seen as largely ambiguous and ironic travelogue forms, expose their audiences to “the sheer beauty of the phenomenal world” (Sitney 2002: 182) and nurture nostalgic feelings for the lost indigenous civilizations, while simultaneously reinforcing the image of an American conquistador, hence creating a strong sense of dialectical tension. Moreover, albeit differing in a specific use of imagery and editing, the films rely on dense, collage-like and often superimposed images, which clearly contribute to the complexity of mood conveyed on screen and emphasize the striking conceptual contrast between white American and Indian culture. Taking such an assumption, I argue that although frequently referred to as epic road poems obliquely critical of the U.S. westward expansion and manifest destiny, the analyzed works’ use of plot reduction, observational and documentary style as well as kinaesthetic visual modes and rhythmic editing derive primarily from the cinéma pur’s camerawork, the cinéma vérité’s superstructure, and the city symphony’s spatial arrangement of urban environments. Such multifaceted inspirations do not only diversify Mass’ and Quixote’s non-narrative aesthetics, but also help document an intriguing psychogeography of the 1960s American landscapes, thus making a valuable contribution to the history of experimental filmmaking dealing with Native American Indian heritage.

Open access
Transnationalism as a Decolonizing Strategy? ‘Trans-Indigenism’ and Native American Food Sovereignty

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to analyze how Indigenous communities in the United States have been engaging in trans-Indigenous cooperation in their struggle for food sovereignty. I will look at inter-tribal conferences regarding food sovereignty and farming, and specifically at the discourse of the Indigenous Farming Conference held in Maplelag at the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. I will show how it: (1) creates a space for Indigenous knowledge production and validation, using Indigenous methods (e.g., storytelling), without the need to adhere to Western scientific paradigms; (2) recovers pre-colonial maps and routes distorted by the formation of nation states; and (3) fosters novel sites for trans-indigenous cooperation and approaches to law, helping create a common front in the fight with neoliberal agribusiness and government. In my analysis, I will use Chadwick Allen’s (2014) concept of ‘trans-indigenism’ to demonstrate how decolonizing strategies are used by the Native American food sovereignty movement to achieve their goals.

Open access
‘And Yet, What Would We Be Without Memory?’ Visualizing Memory in Two Canadian Graphic Texts

Abstract

Since “we live in a culture of confession” (Gilmore 2001: 2; Rak 2005: 2) a rapidly growing popularity of various forms of life writing seems understandable. The question of memory is usually an important part of the majority of autobiographical texts. Taking into account both the popularity of life writing genres and their recent proliferation, it is interesting to see how the question “what would we be without memory?” (Sebald 1998 [1995]: 255) resonates within more experimental auto/biographical texts such as a graphic memoir/novel I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors (2006) by Bernice Eisenstein and a volume of illustrated poetry and a biographical elegy published together as Correspondences (2013) by Anne Michaels and Bernice Eisenstein. These two experimental works, though representing disparate forms of writing, offer new stances on visualization of memory and correspondences between text and visual image. The aim of this paper is to analyze the ways in which the two authors discuss memory as a fluid concept yet, at the same time, one having its strong, ghostly presence. The discussion will also focus on the interplay between memory and postmemory as well as correspondences between the texts and the equally important visual forms accompanying them such as drawings, portraits, sketches, and the bookbinding itself.

Open access