Creative Combat: Indigenous Art, Resurgence, and Decolonization




Martineau, Jarrett

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This dissertation examines the transformative and decolonizing potential of Indigenous art-making and creativity to resist ongoing forms of settler colonialism and advance Indigenous nationhood and resurgence. Through a transdisciplinary investigation of contemporary Indigenous art, aesthetics, performance, music, hip-hop and remix culture, the project explores indigeneity’s opaque transits, trajectories, and fugitive forms. In resistance to the demands and limits imposed by settler colonial power upon Indigenous artists to perform indigeneity according to settler colonial logics, the project examines creative acts of affirmative refusal (or creative negation) that enact a resistant force against the masked dance of Empire by refusing forms of visibility and subjectivity that render indigeneity vulnerable to commodification and control. Through extensive interviews with Indigenous artists, musicians, and collectives working in a range of disciplinary backgrounds across Turtle Island, I stage an Indigenous intervention into multiple discursive forms of knowledge production and analysis, by cutting into and across the fields of Indigenous studies, contemporary art and aesthetics, performance studies, critical theory, political philosophy, sound studies, and hip-hop scholarship. The project seeks to elaborate decolonial political potentialities that are latent in the enfolded act of creation which, for Indigenous artists, both constellate new forms of community, while also affirming deep continuities within Indigenous practices of collective, creative expression. Against the colonial injunction to ‘represent’ indigeneity according to a determinate set of coordinates, I argue that Indigenous art-making and creativity function as the noise to colonialism’s signal: a force capable of disrupting colonial legibility and the repeated imposition of the normative order. Such force gains power through movement and action; it is in the act of turning away from the colonial state, and toward one another, that spaces of generative indeterminacy become possible. In the decolonial cypher, I claim, new forms of being elsewhere and otherwise have the potential to be realized and decolonized.  



Aboriginal, indigenous art, decolonial aesthetics, decolonization, resurgence, creativity, anticolonial, hip-hop, cipher, resistance, remix theory, settler colonialism, sound, performance, critical theory, indigenous futurism, aesthetics, politics, contemporary art