Strategies for Ethical Engagement An Open Letter Concerning Non-Native Scholars of Native Literatures sam mckegney Reacting to violence perpetrated against Indigenous texts by decades of literary criticism dominated by non-Native academics wielding analytical strategies developed outside Native communities, much recent criticism of Indigenous literatures has been intensely self-reflexive about the position of the critic, whether non-Native or otherwise. Declaration of ties to particular Indigenous communities or, perhaps more crucially, confession of lack of community ties and non-Native status have become near obligatory elements of contemporary Indigenous literary criticism, and rightly so given the general desire of such criticism to intervene in and destabilize unequal power relations and the basic truth that non-Native members of the academy tend to enjoy positions of privilege, authority, and power. The current critical climate thus encourages a healthy skepticism about claims made by non-Native critics while suggesting (at times implicitly, at others explicitly) the intellectual and political value of attending to Indigenous voices within the critical arena.1 Helen Hoy, herself non-Native, worries adroitly about "unfortunate occasions either for absolute, irreducible distance or for presumptuous familiarity" (11), which emerge for the outsider critic by virtue of cultural naivety. Lack of cultural immersion leaves many
Studies in American Indian Literatures – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Feb 1, 2008
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