In Mapping the Americas, Shari M. Huhndorf tracks
changing conceptions of Native culture as it increasingly
transcends national boundaries and takes up vital concerns such as
patriarchy, labor and environmental exploitation, the emergence of
pan-Native urban communities, global imperialism, and the
commodification of indigenous cultures.
While nationalism remains a dominant anticolonial strategy in
indigenous contexts, Huhndorf examines the ways in which
transnational indigenous politics have reshaped Native culture
(especially novels, films, photography, and performance) in the
United States and Canada since the 1980s. Mapping the
Americas thus broadens the political paradigms that have
dominated recent critical work in Native studies as well as the
geographies that provide its focus, particularly through its
engagement with the Arctic.
Among the manifestations of these new tendencies in Native
culture that Huhndorf presents are Igloolik Isuma Productions, the
Inuit company that has produced nearly forty films, including
Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner; indigenous feminist
playwrights; Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead;
and the multimedia artist Shelley Niro. Huhndorf also addresses the
neglect of Native America by champions of "postnationalist"
American studies, which shifts attention away from ongoing colonial
relationships between the United States and indigenous communities
within its borders to U.S. imperial relations overseas.
This is a dangerous oversight, Huhndorf argues, because this
neglect risks repeating the disavowal of imperialism that the new
American studies takes to task. Parallel transnational tendencies
in American studies and Native American studies have thus worked at
cross-purposes: as pan-tribal alliances draw attention to U.S.
internal colonialism and its connections to global imperialism,
American studies deflects attention from these ongoing processes of
conquest. Mapping the Americas addresses this neglect by
considering what happens to American studies when you put Native
studies at the center.
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