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It will take place at 4 p. Brooks is teaching at UMF for the spring semester thanks to the Libra Scholar initiative, an endowed program established in , designed to bring scholars of national and international prominence to campuses throughout the University of Maine System. The John L. In , Brooks was elected to the inaugural Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, an international academic association.
She also serves on the editorial board of the journal Studies In American Indian Literatures and on the advisory board of Gedakina—a non-profit organization focused on indigenous cultural revitalization, educational outreach, and community wellness in northern New England. Funding has also been received for the series by Gedakina, a non-profit group aimed at strengthening and revitalizing the cultural knowledge and identity of Native American youth and families from across New England.
Brooks received her Ph. Which parts of this debate matter? If one side argues for an open-ended, inclusive nationalism, can we distinguish such a stance from cosmopolitanism, or is the difference merely semantic? What arguments might be served by continuing to insist on our differences? When does the conversation become so esoteric that it no longer provides us the language we can use in our class rooms and home communities? My hope is that we can face these questions together.
Part 2 : Craig Womack addresses court cases, governmental politics, and historical works. Part 3 : Craig Womack and Lisa Brooks discuss the law and legal categories in how Native nationhood is conceived and practiced. Part 5 : Arnold Krupat notes how translation affects understandings of cosmopolitanism and nationalism.
Part 6 : Lisa Brooks and others continue the discussion of translation. In this section, the panelists reflect on their discussion at Emory and suggest avenues for future conversations. Michael Elliott: In the s, while I was in graduate school, the MLA sessions on Native American literature were intense intellectual exchanges—full of creative, passionate thinking about everything from the abstract questions of methodology and canon formation to the concrete ones of syllabus construction.
What was exciting was the sense that everyone who was willing to read widely, listen carefully, and contribute generously would be part of building a critical community. The exchange that takes place in this panel continues those conversations—conversations that are also continuing not only at MLA, but also the annual conferences Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the pages of Studies in American Indian Literature. At stake in these conversations is the purpose of reading Native American literature itself—the question of how literary expression relates to the tangled histories of colonialism, sovereignty, and community.
For those of us who are privileged to be members of the academy, we must wrestle with what it means to teach this body of expression in the context of contemporary higher education. Now, in , such inquiry has a particular urgency given the precarious state of literary studies in the academy, and it is no accident that we finally turned to that subject at the end of the conversation.
While there are a variety of terms we employ, dissect, and sometimes debate, we all share a commitment to an endeavor that we hope will remain a part of the academic enterprise for generations to come. I got the chance to explain further my sense that critical perspectives such as nationalism, indigenism, and cosmopolitanism are complementary and overlapping, not oppositional or mutually exclusive. I noted that a good deal of my current work is largely nationalist in perspective—a nationalism that seems to me entirely consistent with my earlier cosmopolitan and ethnocritical perspectives.
Further, I explained how and why I had not, in my own critical work e.
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Lisa Brooks: I found it invigorating and illuminating to engage in conversation, over meals and in the classroom, with people whose writing I had passionately disagreed with. One of the most important insights I came to during the discussions, which I communicated to the graduate students, was that my own thinking and writing had developed rapidly in response to writings that Arnold and Elvira had produced. Because I believed they had missed very critical insights and contexts, I was all the more impassioned with the drive to explore, unpack and explain them.
I have to say that I really enjoyed our time together, more than I imagined. For me, it further solidified my own belief in the importance of gathering together, over food, in private and public spaces, to have those very real conversations. But it also showed me that sometimes the stuff that makes you the most angry is the stuff that fuels your strongest work. Elvira Pulitano: Upon receiving the invitation to attend the gathering at Emory, I knew that this was going to be a wonderful opportunity for honest academic conversation.
As I said to Craig in my initial response, I have always considered intellectual discourse a form of democracy, a forum in which people who might disagree with each other can still learn from the experience. What clearly transpired from this panel discussion was the attempt that all of us made at clarifying concepts that have created so much controversy in the past and, more important perhaps, to think about how we can apply some of these concepts in newly changed contexts.
The panel gave me the opportunity to contextualize my current project on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples UNDRIP or the Declaration within my previously published work at the same time as it offered all of us additional insights on how questions of nationalism and cosmopolitanism play out in current debates on indigenous rights. The subject of the UNDRIP is a significant departure from my previous work on Native American literature and theory and it might as well reflect my teaching in an ethnic studies department and the kind of interdisciplinary work that goes with it.
Yet, what fascinates me about this project and the Declaration per se is the question of whether or not international law, as illustrated by this landmark document, is an instrument that indigenous peoples can use for their emancipation, and, more significantly, whether or not the quintessential Eurocentric nature of international law can be changed upon considering indigenous worldviews and perspectives.
In that I see interesting convergences with the theoretical orientation of my previous books. Gordon Henry, Jr. In terms of our discussion of concepts such as nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and translation, it was illuminating for me to reflect upon how we all agreed that these terms are not necessarily oppositional, but complement each other in interesting, complex ways.
Lessons from Frantz Fanon, the advocate of national consciousness and national liberation come to mind.
Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism in Native American Literature: A Panel Discussion
Fanon concludes his seminal study Peau noire, masques blancs with a passionate appeal for a transnational humanism, thus paving the way for some of the debates that in subsequent decades would shape the changing nature of the definition of nationalism. I am not fully convinced that we cannot take a term so vested with negative connotations and transform it into something positive. I agree with Craig that this was an important conversation for us to have and that we should all continue to reflect on it next time we address some of these issues in print.
In closing I would like to offer a point of reflection on the idea of bridging cultures and creating dialogue. I could not help thinking that the majority of the students in that seminar were from Europe. In reading and reflecting about their questions, I re-lived my experience as a graduate student at the University of New Mexico in the mids when, by taking courses in Native American literature, I was trying to understand what I could learn from these texts in terms of cross-cultural communication.
The Europe that these students come from has become undoubtedly more complex than the Europe I left when I first came to the United States as a Fulbright scholar from Italy. It has also become more xenophobic and, to put it bluntly, more racist. Thank you all for being part of such engaging conversations. Craig Womack: Criticism and theory, to my way of thinking, should do three things: express itself artfully, illuminate texts, and address conditions in the material world.
These three objectives, often in tension, exist on a continuum rather than a set of prescribed rules about what criticism should do. This conversation at Emory, born of the goodwill of its participants, will, I hope, continue to elicit and evoke art, illuminate texts, and seek change in the world by addressing our material circumstances. In terms of artfulness, I have to profess a fondness, if not passion, for those theoretical works that best combine style and substance.
In the strictest sense more a work of autobiography, Interior Landscapes , nonetheless, remains an exciting critical study because it involves hard analytical work at the highest levels of creativity.
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Our job as critics, I believe, is to do whatever we can to facilitate works of such extraordinary caliber and to move people beyond statements that repeat, rather dutifully, platitudes about Native tradition. We should hold true to our calling that we ought to be different than the rest of academe, and, at times, different than the rest of the tribal world , creating hope that deviant, rather than affirmational, work is always a possibility.
As far as our conversation at Emory goes, I think we need to follow up with a discussion of how we might foster this kind of creative criticism. Heavily narrativised literary studies, the kind I have confessed loving, may be only one form of excellence. What other possibilities might exist that could reach the levels of some of these earlier excellent beginnings?
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Such analysis could foster discussions regarding what is literary about the UN Declaration as well as what is international or lacking in international perspective about US Native fiction and criticism. Which leaders with an international orientation have demonstrated such concerns and how might cosmopolitans and nationalists emulate them? We address, pretty directly, the subject of hybridity. A central issue we broach is whether or not we need to adapt our understanding of the word or reject it in Native Studies.
Some might wonder why, if we had a correct understanding of hybridity's emancipatory potential, we would reject it? Or, similarly, scholars might ask this: if we can get people to understand its power, why not educate them about the meaning of hybridity, the ways it can indicate transculturation rather than assimilation? I find our discussion illuminating because it occurs face to face rather than in print, conveying the immediacy of our concerns about hybridity, and does so in a different way than we had discussed in writing.
Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism in Native American Literature: A Panel Discussion | Southern Spaces
I am hopeful that the next time we write about this subject we will take into consideration this exchange. As for examining the material world and creating change, will talking about hybridity affect any aspect of the worlds we live in? If so, let us identify this kind of hybridity talk and start talking it.
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I see more work at hand in terms of identifying what types of hybridity might have some applicability. Lisa Brooks is an assistant professor of history and literature and of folklore and mythology at Harvard University. Elvira Pulitano is an associate professor of ethnic studies at California Polytechnic State University. Craig Womack is an associate professor of English at Emory University. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press,