Mythologies of an (un)dead Indian




Leween, Jackson Twobears

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This dissertation explores the aesthetics of contemporary Indigenous identity— its various manifestations, simulations, hybridizations, (dis)appearances, and liminalities. It is a project about the lived experience of ancestry conceived of through narratives of shapeshifting, virtuality, sacrifice, hauntings and possession. This project is representative of a period of time in an on-going journey that began long before these first words were written…and one that I intend will continue long after this book’s completion. The methodological approach to this work is multifaceted, encompassing the fields of Indigenous philosophy, digital media art and cultural studies. It is a project comprised of several interrelated strands of theoretical speculation, philosophical inquiry and creative engagement. This dissertation is in many ways an autobiographical text—a meditation on my own Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) heritage and the spaces I occupy in the world as Onkwehonwe (an Indigenous person). At its core it is about exploring different modes of engagement with my own ancestral ‘territories’, while at the same time it endeavors to ask larger questions about collective memory, community, and cultural inheritance. In being representative of a journey, the interrelated strands of writings in this text are meant to be traversal, and are about surveying and mapping different intellectual and creative territories. This text is about crossing interdisciplinary zones of theoretical inquiry that occur at the intersection and hybridization of Indigenous and Western philosophies, contemporary First Nations performance art and post-structuralist theory. It is a work comprised of ebbs and flows, movements, refrains, and cascades of articulation that interpenetrate and cross over into one another. This text is therefore best thought of as a series of theoretical passageways—a multiplicity of thoughts and critical engagements in motion, translation and conversion. It must be said that the traversals and crossings in this text are not necessarily about establishing a synthesis between differing ideologies, philosophies or cosmologies. It is not intended to be dichotomous, but rather should be read as a remix-theory that passes in-between different fields of critical inquiry. For while on the one hand this text seeks to explore different zones of intellectual and creative proximity, it is also a work that emerges from within a multitude of contradictions and myriad incommensurabilities.



Indigenous philosophy, First Nations art, contemporary native performance, post-structural theory, digital media art