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

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Jodi A. Byrd


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.

Article Details

Critical Indigenous Theory (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Jodi A. Byrd, University of Illinois

Jodi A. Byrd is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies and English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.