Written by MARK RIFKIN
Published: 29 November -0001
Cultural StudiesCritical Methods Special Issue
Settler Colonialism and Cultural Studies:
Toward a Critical Epistemology of Sovereignty, Disappearance, and Solidarity
Guest Editor: Aimee Carrillo Rowe
Settler Colonial Studies comprises a body of scholarship of emerging importance in Native American Studies, feminist studies, queer theory, and ethnic studies. Native Studies scholars working in feminist and queer theory like Jodi Byrd, Joanne Barker, Jennifer Denetdale, Dian Million, Mishuana Goeman, Audra Simpson, Andrea Smith, Mark Rifkin, and Scott Morgensen have explored how cultural productions remain complicit with ongoing settlement, both in everyday practices and intellectual projects like queer studies, feminist studies, and critical race studies. This special issue of Cultural StudiesCritical Methods leverages settler colonialism as a theory, method, and critical affective project to revise cultural studies and its underlying assumptions about sovereignty, racialization, imperialism, and Indigeneity. Cultural studies theorizations of race, space, and colonization have yet to adequately grapple with the politics of settlement; whiteness must be more fully interrogated as a settler project, especially within U.S. contexts; imperialism must be theorized as productive of, but not equal to settler colonialism; and popular cultural studies might be radically rethought through a critical examination of pervasive representations that disappear first nations people.
Settler colonial studies provides a vibrant examination of power relations in its extensive treatment of such topics as: sovereignty, nationalism and nation formation; imperial formations, genocide, removal, colonial legacies; the politics of landedness, space and place; intersectionality, queer theory, and gender studies; race, racialization, and white supremacy; affect studies; materiality, environmentalism, and new materialism; tourism and travel. Following Jodi Byrd, authors in this special issue are invited to ask how settler colonialism’s violence and genocide shape cultural production and political movements, including critical intellectual projects like cultural studies, or how Jasbir Puar’s work can interrogate the homonationalism upon which settlement, land theft, and ongoing forms of genocide are maintained, normalized, and erased within the popular imaginary.
New approaches to a variety of the above topics – including sovereignty and modern nation formation; imperialism; landedness in relation to space and place; intersectionality and queer and gender studies; race, racialization and white supremacy; affect studies, materiality and new materialism – are of urgent importance to cultural studies practitioners. Yet, with the exception of a handful of scholars, treatments of settler colonialism have largely remained undertheorized in cultural studies, where concepts like “settlers” and “settlement” appear as secondary categories—if they appear at all. For instance, while postcolonial critics have attended to settler colonialism in their theorizations of nation state and imperial formations, the “post” remains a vexed term in Native Studies, where any move to place colonialism in the past risks reifying the myth of the disappearing Indian. As Byrd’s rigorous theoretical treatment reveals, the category of the indigenous savage is the condition of possibility for Western thought, invisibly structuring the production of seemingly critical concepts that circulate within cultural studies, like freedom, history, origin, and difference.
This special issue of CSCM considers the political stakes of the marginalization of settler colonial studies within cultural studies and expands, revises, and repurposes the scope of the field’s inquiry, politics and archive. Potential Projects might consider topics such as the following:
• Epistemologies, methods, and processes of settler colonialism
• Intersectionality, racialization and settlement, settlers of color, and comparative ethnic studies
• Sovereignty, nation formation, landedness, space and place
• Settlement, capitalism, neoliberalism, and globalization
• Erasure, disappearance, loss, and resistance in the production of indigenous identities, epistemologies, and settler knowledge
• “Felt theory,” affect, relationality, solidarity, and spatial and temporal productions
• Rituals, daily practices, and ceremony
• Materialism, vibrancy, matter, environmentalism, and Indigenous epistemologies
• Indianness, disappearance, savagery and conquest in cultural and theoretical productions
• Indigeneity, violence, genocide, and the prison industrial complex
• Roots, routes, and returns
Deadlines for submission:
by June 1, 2015
• Papers will be sent for review by September 1, 2015