Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jodi Byrd, from Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (2011)

For the Chickasaw, who have negotiated and survived [the colonial-imperial territorial] system for over four hundred and fifty years, the intersubstantiations of sovereignty and relationship that connect community to ancestral place and belonging arise from the ontologies of reciprocal complementarity, Upper and Lower Worlds, that inflect and shape this world through balance and haksuba [or the Chickasaw dialectic between Upper and Lower Worlds that materializes in the human world as cacophony]. Movement across land and time was tied to the night sky and a deep awareness of the celestial order of spiral galaxies even as that movement traversed rivers and mountain ranges on ceremonial cycles of death and rebirth. Sovereignty, in the context of such philosophies, is an act of interpretation as much as it is a political assertion of power, control, and exception. That interpretation is an act of sovereignty is well known and practiced by the imperial hegemon that uses juridical, military, and ontological force to police interpretation and interpellate what is and is not seen, what can and cannot be said. Indigenous critical theory stands in the parallax gap created when US empire transits itself in the stretch between perceptions of the real to interpret and will against the signifying systems that render “Indianness” as the radical alterity of the real laid bare.

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