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Decolonizing Gender: Indigenous Feminism and Native American Literature


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12115

Decolonizing Gender: Indigenous Feminism and Native American Literature

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Title: Decolonizing Gender: Indigenous Feminism and Native American Literature
Author: Sneider, Leah
Advisor(s): Scharnhorst, Gary
Committee Member(s): Washburn, Kathleen
Goldstein, Alyosha
Denetdale, Jennifer
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of English
Subject: Indigenous Feminism
Native American Literature
Indian literature
LC Subject(s): Indians of North America--Ethnic identity
Decolonization in literature
Sex role in literature
American literature--Indian authors--Criticism and interpretation
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: An Indigenous feminist approach to Native literature reveals the ways in which Native authors attempt to build balanced relationships and conversations across cultures, nations, and histories. I explore ways that Native authors depict gender violence and male characters who, like Native women, negotiate colonization and assert sovereignty. Doing so offers a new way of reading Native literature that seeks to also decolonize our analytical approaches for similar use across academic disciplines and for practical applications within and outside of academia. I define Indigenous Feminism as the responsibility for the nurturance and growth of Native communities through storytelling as a communal process and action reflecting personal sovereign power. I focus on how these authors adapt traditional knowledge of social balance through ideological subversion. I read literary conventions as creating complementary and reciprocal relationships in order to develop critical awareness thus enacting an Indigenous feminist ideology. An author’s rhetorical and literary use of these principles attempts to create a balanced relationship between reader and author that simultaneously decolonizes readers’ minds. Reading constructions of masculinities in connection with complementarity and reciprocity discloses and helps to understand colonial gender violence thus asserting an Indigenous feminist decolonizing process that seeks to remove colonial ideological shackles. Thus, I read Native texts for a balanced distribution of power across relationships, specifically gender-based relationships and systems of power. This exploration of complementary and reciprocal relationships enables us to read literature as critical responses to gender violence and its effects on both Native men and women. These texts and their authors offer a way of seeing gender identity on a continuum based on both individual and communal needs. Furthermore, such an analysis allows for balanced dialogue needed to uncover a new understanding of shared experiences to effect social change. Therefore, a more inclusive Indigenous feminist perspective presents a new way of recognizing literature and storytelling as social activism, or attempting to affect social justice within the imaginations and ideologies of its readers.
Graduation Date: December 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12115

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