‘In the City of Blinding Lights’: Indigeneity, Cultural Studies and the Errants of Colonial Nostalgia

Jodi A. Byrd


Abstract

US-based cultural studies often prioritises issues of race, class, and gender within popular representations of the ‘other’ at the expense of undertheorising, especially within its own settler colonial history, issues of indigeneity, colonialism, and imperialism. This essay takes as a case study the US 2008 Democratic presidential primary cycle in which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ran for their party’s nomination by claiming that their success would fulfil either the promises of the civil rights movement or second-wave feminism. Through the course of the primary season, each of these movements was framed within the larger US national myth of Manifest Destiny with its nostalgic struggles against an ‘unforgiving wilderness’. Indigenous critical theory, as it engages US cultural studies and theories of resistance, recentres issues of colonialism within the historical and material cultural productions of the nation and challenges the political discourse of liberatory inclusion and freedom to acknowledge the colonisation of indigenous peoples upon which ‘inclusion’ and ‘freedom’ are built.

Keywords

Barack Obama; indigeneity; colonialism; Manifest Destiny; liberal democracy; symptomatic errant

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