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.

Special Issue of Marvels and Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies (2016)
Guest Editors: Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada and Aiko Yamashiro

Rooted in Wonder:
Tales of Indigenous Activism and Community Organizing
Indigenous wisdom has historically had a fraught relationship with the fields of folklore studies, cultural anthropology, and ethnography, with indigenous knowledges being relegated to “folk wisdom” as a way to undermine their authority within colonial knowledge systems. With that in mind, however, we feel that much can be gained by both fields in bringing indigenous studies and folklore/fairy tale studies into closer proximity. We would like to heed Cristina Bacchilega’s call to folklore and fairy tale scholars to re-focus on a “politics of wonder” instead of magic in order to move away from a Euroamerican literary tradition and worldview that has created and disseminated a brand of depoliticized magic. As Marina Warner contends, feelings of pleasure, fear, surprise, dread, marvel, fascination, and inquiry all come together in the powerful idea of wonder. Rather than dismissing the wondrous aspects of fairy tales as irrelevant to the “real world,” we want to employ wonder to connect the fairy tale to indigenous folk stories and tales that suggest another world, attending to the ways folklore and fairy tales have and continue to instill wonder in their audiences, foregrounding unknown possibilities and transformations within an unjust world.
“Make ke kalo, ola hou i ka naio” is a Hawaiian proverb that describes how the taro, a Hawaiian staple that is also thought to be the elder sibling of the Hawaiian, dies but lives again through its shoots. The first taro grew from the spot where a stillborn fetus was planted, and the taro’s younger sibling became the first Hawaiian. Hawaiians use this saying--and the story behind--for many different occasions to generate wonder and awe at the rootedness and connectedness of the people to the land, but it was mobilized to particularly powerful effect after the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in order to proclaim that while Hawaiian sovereignty seemed to have died back, it would ineveitably be restored through new growth.
Our collection will focus on tales and stories of wonder as strategy and survivance, as decolonial and anti-colonial in contemporary and historical contexts. For example, how do stories of wonder work to reconnect people to land and health? How do stories reframe or redefine the stakes in battles over oil drilling or militarization or telescopes? What place does wonder or magic have in our daily struggles against colonialism? How can we bring tales of wonder back into settler colonial educational systems in transformative ways?
In this special issue of Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies, we would like to honor and discuss the ways indigenous tales and stories of wonder adapt to moments of political and social crisis, and live on in ways that sustain indigenous culture, health, identity, and sovereignty. We begin by acknowledging the ongoing colonial violences indigenous people are suffering, and the very real stakes of telling stories. By doing so, we are following the lines laid out by scholars like Caroline Sinavaiana whose academic and creative work highlights the importance of indigenous tradition, performance, connection, and story in interrogating our own gendered identities; Waziyatawin whose Remember This! Dakota Decolonization and the Eli Taylor Narratives foregrounds the importance of memory and stories in indigenous struggles for land and sovereignty; Steven Winduo’s large body of work that recenters the indigenous in relation to the colonial categories of literary and folk in the service of nation-building in Oceania, and Grace Dillon whose work advocates for the incorporation of indigenous “modes of imagination” into genres rife with wonder such as science fiction and fantasy as a commitment to social justice.
We are interested in articles dealing with ways in which tales of wonder—from fairy tales and folk tales to myths and legends—have been featured, employed, translated, adapted, or redefined in contemporary and historical struggles related but not limited to:
-the indigenous landscape
-contested place names or land/water use
-indigenous education or reforming settler state educational systems
-making space for indigenous practice
-legal struggles
-protecting spiritual and sacred sites
-militarization or development of indigenous land
-adaptation in new media and technology
-indigenous agriculture and food-based practices
-community health
-intergenerational or kinship relationships
-language and translation
-activism through art and music
-revitalizaion of voyaging practices
-reframing understandings of gender and sexuality
-creating cross-cultural, cross-struggle alliances and relationships

The guest editors, in consultation with the Marvels and Tales Journal editors, will make decisions on the final submissions. This special issue is scheduled to be published in 2016.
We are interested in short critical essays (20 double-spaced pages max, including Works Cited), and we are also open to creative-critical mixes, and original translations with commentary. Please get in touch with us if you have an idea that you think might fit, or if you have further questions.
DEADLINE: 300-500 word abstracts to Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by August 15, 2014.

For more information about Marvels and Tales, please see:

We look forward to hearing your inspiring stories!
Bryan and Aiko


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