Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law

Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law

by Cheryl Suzack


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In Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law, Cheryl Suzack explores Indigenous women's writing in the post-civil rights period through close-reading analysis of major texts by Leslie Marmon Silko, Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, Louise Erdrich, and Winona LaDuke.

Working within a transnational framework that compares multiple tribal national contexts and U.S.-Canadian settler colonialism, Suzack sheds light on how these Indigenous writers use storytelling to engage in social justice activism by contesting discriminatory tribal membership codes, critiquing the dispossession of Indigenous women from their children, challenging dehumanizing blood quantum codes, and protesting colonial forms of land dispossession. Each chapter in this volume aligns a court case with a literary text to show how literature contributes to self-determination struggles. Situated at the intersections of critical race, Indigenous feminist, and social justice theories, Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law crafts an Indigenous-feminist literary model in order to demonstrate how Indigenous women respond to the narrow vision of law by recuperating other relationships—to themselves, the land, the community, and the settler-nation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442650671
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 05/28/2017
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Cheryl Suzack is an associate professor of English and Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto. She is a member of the Batchewana First Nation.

Table of Contents


Introduction. Indigenous Women's Writing, Storytelling, and Law

Chapter One. Gendering the Politics of Tribal Sovereignty: Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez and Ceremony

Chapter Two. The Legal Silencing of Indigenous Women: Racine v. Woods and In Search of April Raintree

Chapter Three. Colonial Governmentality and Gender Violence: State of Minnesota v. Zay Zah and The Antelope Wife

Chapter Four. Land Claims, Identity Claims: Manypenny v. United States

and Last Standing Woman

Conclusion. For an Indigenous-Feminist Literary Criticism

Works Cited

What People are Saying About This

Susan Bernardin

"Indigenous Women's Writing is an ambitious and ground-breaking study that affirms the crucial work of engaging with the genealogies of settler colonial legal discourse, both broadly across the United States and Canada, and as experienced within the specific tribal communities. It is an an extraordinary feat of interdisciplinary scholarship and scholarly activism that opens up dynamic new spaces for Indigenous Studies, Indigenous literary studies, Indigenous Feminisms, and studies in Indigenous Law and Governance."

Lorraine Weir

"Cheryl Suzack's bold and highly innovative new book is a masterful work of Law and Literature scholarship which never loses sight of her commitment to make ideas defend the lives of Indigenous women. Strikingly original, ambitious and often dazzling in the clarity of its case analysis, this book is a breakthrough in Critical Indigenous Studies and a compelling read for anyone interested in Indigenous feminist politics and poetics."

N. Bruce Duthu

"The strength of Suzack's book lies in its richly textured and considered analysis of Indigenous women's literature, national law relating to Indigenous peoples in the US and Canada, and Indigenous feminist criticism. Scholars and general readers alike will benefit from Suzack's insightful readings of legal and fictional narratives that remind us of the terrible legacy of colonialism but also of the resilience, beauty and wisdom of the First Nations."

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