Native American and Indigenous Studies Association

The premiere international & interdisciplinary professional organization for scholars, graduate students, independent researchers, and community members interested in all aspects of Indigenous Studies.

a/b: Auto/Biography

Contact:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hemispheric Performance Studies scholar Diana Taylor has referred to a shared hemispheric reality of  “tangled systems of expression, representation, and economic and power relations,” where attempts to align identities with geographical locations, cultural practices, naming practices, and heavily policed ideological borders  present the hemisphere’s inhabitants with constant challenges.  She sums it up with “America: it depends on how you look at it.  What you call it.  How you live it.”[1] (1417). 

This special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies invites critical essays that explore how both Indigenous and America are looked at, named and lived in autobiographical works (literary, visual, filmic, other)  by Indigenous artists and authors throughout the Americas. 

Possible topics include:

  • how Indigenous authors or artists engage with what it means to be Indigenous in the Americas;
  • how various identity terms-- Indian, Native, Indigenous, Aboriginal, indio, American, norteamericano, and others—get claimed, played with or rejected by the authors, artists and texts discussed;
  • how readings of Indigenous life narratives in the Americas might further understanding of autobiographical genres and of the use of those genres as political tools;
  • connections between life narratives and assertions of Indigenous literary and rhetorical sovereignty;
  • the implications of exploring Indigenous autobiographical works from within a hemispheric context

All submitted essays should have a relevant theoretical framework and participate in contemporary conversations within the fields of auto/biography studies and Indigenous studies. Potential contributors may find it helpful to refer to back issues of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies prior to submitting their work for consideration.  Individual articles and full issues are now available on Project MUSE.

Submission guidelines: Inquiries and essays should be emailed to Laura Beard at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Essays are due by July 1, 2015 and they should be between 7,500 and 10,000 words in length, including notes and the Works Cited pages.  All essays must follow the format of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) and the a/b Style Sheet, which can be found at this address: All essays submitted for the special issue, but not selected, will be considered general submissions and may be selected for publication.

Authors must also include a fifty-word abstract and two to four keywords with their submissions.  In order to ensure a blind peer review, remove any identifying information, including citations that refer to you as the author in the first person. Cite previous publications, etc. with your last name to preserve the blind reading process. Include your name, address, email, the title of your essay, and your affiliation in a cover letter or cover sheet for your essay. It is the author’s responsibility to secure any necessary copyright permissions and essays may not progress into the publication stage without written proof of right to reprint. Images with captions must be submitted in a separate file as 300 dpi (or higher) tif files.

Laura Beard is author of Acts of Narrative Resistance: Women’s Autobiographical Writings in the Americas (U Virginia P, 2009).  She is Professor and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages & Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta, where she is also an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies. She is currently working on a book on autobiographical life narratives about the Indian residential school experience in the United States and Canada.

[1] Taylor, Diana. "Remapping Genre through Performance: From" American" to" Hemispheric" Studies." PMLA (2007): 1416-1430.

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