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Preface: Tragic Wisdom and Survivance

Published in Rostkowski, J. Conversations with Remarkable Native Americans. Albany: SUNY Press. 2013
Abstract This preface explains the concept of survivance, developed by Gerald Vizenor, in order to contextualize Joëlle Rostkowski's conversations with a series of extraordinary Native Americans. Survivance is not a static object or method but a dynamic condition of historical and cultural survival and also of political resistance: an epistemology, an ontology, and an axiology. Survivance is the continual assertion of non-territorial Native sovereignty, which the interviewees in this book describe as the condition of their lives as artists, writers, journalists, lawyers, and activists. Survivance, as a structuring epistemological principle, is political, cultural, and aesthetic, a resistance and counter-interpretation that constantly seeks to expose the workings of dominant colonialist ideologies in the production of everyday meanings. Survivance refuses the easy acceptance of the “commonsense” interpretation of the world that supports what Aileen Moreton-Robinson calls the “possessive logic” of nation-state sovereignty. Vizenor describes this interpretative resistance as the “un-saying” of the world and the corresponding effort to speak it “otherwise” in Native terms. In this way, survivance counters the epistemology of disavowal that characterizes settler relations with Native peoples. In the context of US settler colonialism, the history of Native dispossession is both acknowledged and denied, for example in the official legal doctrines of “discovery” and “conquest” that regulate relations between the federal and tribal governments. Survivance rejects the historical and cultural narratives that deny a Native sense of presence, a presence that preceded and endures despite colonial settlement.
Keywords Native AmericansSurvivanceNative American historyIndigeneityColonialism
ISBN: 9781438441757
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MADSEN, Deborah Lea. Preface: Tragic Wisdom and Survivance. In: Rostkowski, J. (Ed.). Conversations with Remarkable Native Americans. Albany : SUNY Press, 2013. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:87782

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Deposited on : 2016-09-27

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