AMST 405
Critical Indigenous Theory Spring 2019
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
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Class Details

Intellectual decolonization is not a bounded project. On one hand, it demands a vocabulary of difference and refusal that rejects colonial theories and epistemologies. On the other, it demands that we interrogate our own intellectual and cultural traditions and trauma. Critical Indigenous theory is a tool in those projects, as it offers a corrective and an opening up of both dominant critical theory traditions that violently erase Indigenous bodies and political realities and of Indigenous theory that can essentialize difference and replicate oppressive dynamics in our communities. Critical Indigenous theory seeks to understand the structures and relations of power in settler colonialism, nested sovereignty, and culturally specific Indigenous philosophical traditions, like Indigenous studies more broadly, but also questions the key concepts that define Indigenous studies: tradition, sovereignty, authenticity, identity, race, gender, and sexuality. In this course, we will read major works in critical Indigenous theory that address indigeneity as it relates to race, postcolonial theory, feminist and two-spirit critique, alternative political engagement with the settler colonial state, and questions of “colonial unknowing.” We will work on cultivating the reading practices needed to parse dense theoretical texts, and over the course of the semester you will develop a research project on a topic of your choosing that will allow you to take critical Indigenous theories and employ them as analytic tools and lenses.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3018
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and participation, one discussion prospectus, and a 20-page research paper
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: junior or senior status and some background in American Studies, Native American Studies, or Critical Theory or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: American Studies majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: DPE: Students will be invited to think deeply about the intersections of race, gender, colonialism, sexuality, and epistemology, and develop skills necessary to identify the theoretical basis of decolonial activism. WI: Students will be required to take the theories we read in class and use them as analytics in a 20-page research paper on a topic of their choosing. Over the course of the semester, we will model how to do this in class work, research question development, outlining, and workshopping.
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
AMST 400-level Senior Seminars

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