Yesterday was International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a United Nations–recognized day dedicated to raising awareness of the needs of Indigenous peoples. In observance, we’d like to uplift some of our recent scholarship in Indigenous studies.
Tiffany Lethabo King, Jenell Navarro, and Andrea Smith, the editors of Otherwise Worlds, point out that presumptions of solidarity, antagonism, or incommensurability between Black and Native communities are insufficient to understand the relationships between both groups. This volume’s scholars, artist, and activists investigate the complex relationships between settler colonialism and anti-Blackness to explore the political possibilities that emerge from such inquiries.
In Fictions of Land and Flesh, Mark Rifkin turns to black and indigenous speculative fiction to show how it offers a site to better understand black and indigenous political movements’ differing orientations in ways that can foster forms of mutual engagement and cooperation without subsuming them into a single political framework in the name of solidarity.
In Detours, a brilliant reinvention of the travel guide edited by Hokulani K. Aikau and Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez, artists, activists, and scholars redirect readers from the fantasy of Hawai‘i as a tropical paradise and tourist destination toward a multilayered and holistic engagement with Hawai‘i’s culture, complex history, and the effects of colonialism.
Tiffany Lethabo King uses the shoal—an offshore geologic formation that is neither land nor sea—as metaphor, mode of critique, and methodology to theorize the encounter between Black studies and Native studies and its potential to create new epistemologies, forms of practice, and lines of critical inquiry in The Black Shoals.
In Listen but Don’t Ask Question, Kevin Fellezs traces the ways in which slack key guitar—a traditional Hawaiian musical style played on an acoustic steel-string guitar—is a site for the articulation of the complex histories, affiliations, and connotations of Hawaiian belonging.
“Getting Back the Land: Anticolonial and Indigenous Strategies of Reclamation,” a South Atlantic Quarterly issue, offers “diagnosis, critique, and radical visions for the future from some of the leading thinkers and experts on the tactics of the settler capitalist state, and on the exercises of Indigenous jurisdiction that counter them,” write issue editors Shiri Pasternak and Dayna Nadine Scott in their introduction. The issue also includes a section on the rise of precarious workers.
Indigenous activism in the Americas has long focused on the symbolic reclamation of land. Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives, contributors to “Indigenous Narratives of Territory and Creation,” an issue of English Language Notes edited by Leila Gómez, explore narratives of territory and origin that provide a foundation for this political practice. The contributors study Indigenous-language stories from displaced communities, analyzing the meaning and power of these narratives in the context of diaspora and the struggle for land.
As modern European empires expanded, written language was critical to articulations of imperial authority and justifications of conquest. For imperial administrators and thinkers, the non-literacy of “native” societies demonstrated their primitiveness and inability to change. Yet as the contributors to Indigenous Textual Cultures, edited by Tony Ballantyne, Lachy Paterson, and Angela Wanhalla, make clear, indigenous communities were highly adaptive and created novel, dynamic literary practices that preserved indigenous knowledge traditions.
In “Birds and Feathers in the Ancient and Colonial Mesoamerican World,” an issue of Ethnohistory edited by Allison Caplan and Lisa Sousa, contributors reconstruct the integrated roles of real and symbolic birds and their feathers in ancient and colonial Mesoamerican and trans-Atlantic societies. By foregrounding indigenous knowledge and value systems, they reexamine the significance of birds and feathers in constructions of the natural world, philosophy and religion, society and economics, and artistic practice.
Also keep an eye out for English Language Notes 58:2, “Indigenous Futures and Medieval Pasts,” forthcoming in October. Sign up for issue alerts to receive email notification when it’s available.