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Contested Images, Contested Lands: The Politics of Space in Louise Erdrich's Tracks and Leslie Marmon Silko's Sacred Water

Contested Images, Contested Lands: The Politics of Space in Louise Erdrich's Tracks and Leslie Marmon Silko's Sacred Water
170 St. George St., JHB 100a
Time: Mar 22nd, 3:00 pm End: Mar 22nd, 5:00 pm
Interest Categories: Women & Gender Studies (FAS), Law, Faculty of , Indigenous, History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Environment, English and Drama (UTM), English (UTSC), English (FAS), Comparative Literature (FAS), Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (UTM), 2000-, 1950-2000, 1900-1950, 1800-1900
Lecture by Shari Huhndorf, UC-Berkeley

The Jackman Humanities Institute's Program for the Arts on Location/Dislocation is pleased to present:

Shari Huhndorf, Professor of Native American Studies, UC-Berkeley

Contested Images, Contested Lands: The Politics of Space in Louise Erdrich's Tracks and Leslie Marmon Silko's Sacred Water

Abstract:  What role does culture play in conflicts over territory, the enduring center of indigenous politics?  Although literary and visual representations have performed a crucial role in colonization, indigenous artists and writers have revised these representational conventions to contest colonial power and to support Native claims to territory.  This paper takes up questions about the connections between cultural representations and spatial politics through an analysis of two exemplary texts: Louise Erdrich's novel Tracks (1988) and Leslie Marmon Silko's Sacred Water (1993).  Tracks narrates the devastating aftermath of the 1887 General Allotment Act, which transformed reservation lands into private property, as it also engages a consequent conflict, one that waged as Erdrich penned the novel, surrounding the legality of land transfers on the White Earth Anishinaabe Reservation after allotment.  As Tracks scrutinizes the effects of colonial policies, it undermines capitalist conceptions of land and history that underlie dispossession.  Silko's Sacred Water extends this engagement with territorial conflicts by revising the conventions of landscape photography, a genre historically implicated in dispossession, to challenge notions of land as property.  At the same time, it conveys indigenous histories and meanings of territory that carry legal weight in contemporary regional disputes surrounding land and water rights.

Shari Huhndorf is Professor of Native American Studies in the Ethnic Studies Department at UC Berkeley.  She is the author of two books, Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination (Cornell UP, 2001) and Mapping the Americas: The Transnational Politics of Contemporary Native Culture (Cornell UP, 2009), and a co-editor of Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture (UBC Press, 2010).  Another co-edited work, Sovereignty, Indigeneity, and the Law, a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, recently won the 2011 award for best special issue from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.  She is currently at work on a manuscript tentatively entitled "Indigeneity and the Politics of Space: The Gendered Geographies of Native Women's Culture."

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