Year

2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Social Sciences, Media and Communications - Faculty of Arts

Abstract

This thesis stages a critical interrogation of the colonial politics that have shaped and continue to shape representations of Native Americans in a North American context. This critical interrogation is based on a reading of Leslie Marmon Silko's landmark text Almanac Of The Dead. I argue that Silko's deployment of Native American counter-discourses of history and story-telling contests Eurocentric epistemologies and ideologies and their entrenched colonial relations of power/knowledge. In the course of this thesis, I focus on the complex representational economies that constitute Silko's text in order to draw attention to Native American histories of resistance to material and symbolic practices of colonialism. Silko's text, I argue, is distinguished by an extraordinary range of representational practices that cut across Eurocentric epistemological categories and taxonomies. Drawing on a rich repertoire of genres and cultural practices -- including the novel, history, photography, the almanac, political manifesto, prophecy and oral story-telling -- Silko effectively challenges dominant, Eurocentric representations of Native Americans whilst, importantly, staging a project of cultural and historical reclamation. The complexity of Silko's text, I argue, cannot be appreciated unless it is contextualised within the colonial economies of power/knowledge that have shaped the Americas post the invasion of 1492 and the tactics of resistance maintained by Native Americans in the face of ongoing colonial practices. As such, throughout the course of this thesis, I rigorously map the complex intertextual relations that constitute the fabric of Silko's text. At every level of her text, I conclude, Silko stages contestatory interventions that challenge and critique dominant colonial systems of representation whilst simultaneously marking, re-articulating and valorising Native American epistemologies and cosmologies that overturn these same colonial systems.

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