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Title: The collapse of space : reconfiguring and re-imag(in)ing social relations in Native American written narratives
Author: Bleck, Melani
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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Recently, many scholars of Native American Literature have expressed an increasing concern over the proliferation of Euroamerican based criticism within their field. They believe that the use of theories predicated on a western worldview to analyze American Indian texts condones the ongoing appropriation of Native American culture. The imposition of western theory privileges an Euroamerican narrative and consequently results in the continued subjugation of American Indian experience: it perpetuates the basic assumptions and attitudes behind colonization. This thesis explores the techniques employed by American Indian authors to resists western theory and to offer an alternative perspective from within a tribal framework. Their attempts to redefine reality through a tribal context necessitate the destabilization of certain underpinning assumptions upheld by the dominant Society: specifically spatial theory. The European settlers' perspective of Native American emerged out of their belief that land existed as space to acquire. The subsequent policies implemented to facilitate their appropriation of the land had detrimental effects on American Indians who had no concept of space or of land in terms of individual ownership. Space, a western construct, creates a dichotomy between emptiness and occupation: the desired state. Viewing land as an object to possess results in domination and alienation. These ramifications of spatially defining land remain linked to notions of occupation and possession, which imply otherness, or separation from self. Conversely, space and its characteristics, because it is abstraction, held no significance for Native Americans before its introduction by the settlers. Tribal life relies upon integration and connection, therefore, nature and land exist as part of a tribal worldview. Henri Lefebvre, in his book The Production of Space, suggests that nature destabilizes the fundamental qualities of space. Due to the reliance of American Indian writings on tribal traditions, which remain inseparable from nature, space must therefore collapse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available