Visions of Sovereignty: Indigenous Narratives of Resistance in a Neoliberal Age

  • Author / Creator
    Smyth, Brendan M.
  • This dissertation examines four Indigenous novels published in Canada and the United States between 1990 and 2000. Building upon Indigenous and non-Indigenous theories of literary nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and globalization, this project focuses on narrative articulations of Indigenous cultural and political sovereignty that foreground and are cognizant of global political, economic, cultural, and environmental entanglements. One of the key intentions of this study is to underscore the importance of examining how modes of Indigenous being-in-common are articulated in fiction written within a context of neoliberalism. Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead is foundational in terms of its critique of the practices and ideologies of neoliberal globalization, its representation of Indigenous modes of being-in-relation and resistance, its association of Indigenous sovereignty with transnational, inter-tribal, and alliance-based movements. Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms offers an Indigenous critique of neoliberalism from an environmental standpoint, foregrounding the importance of Indigenous ecologies, knowledges, and relations in the face of neoliberal globalization. Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer articulates urban Indigenous community practices in resistance to urban neoliberal governmentality, ongoing colonial policies of erasure, and material and intellectual dispossession. Jeannette Armstrong’s Whispering in Shadows explores the context of Indigenous liberation struggles in the Americas, as well as global Indigenous activism at the international level. I argue that these novels represent a broad spectrum of Indigenous responses in 1990s North America to the economic, environmental, cultural, and political consequences of neoliberal globalization for Indigenous practices of community, nationalism, and sovereignty. Ultimately, they imagine and problematize possibilities for resistance, for conceptualizing justice, and for understanding our complex interrelationships with others.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • English
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Read, Daphne (English and Film Studies)
    • Philips, Lisa (Anthropology)
    • Appleford, Rob (English and Film Studies)
    • Allen, Chadwick (English, Ohio State University)
    • Andersen, Chris (Native Studies)