British Association for American Studies


CFP: Native American Narratives in a Global Context

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CFP: Native American Narratives in a Global Context

October 1, 2017

Call for Papers: Native American Narratives in a Global Context

Special Issue to Appear in Transmotion

Deadline for Abstracts: 1st October 2017

In the contemporary moment, the world has seen an increase in transnational and decolonial activist movements around indigenous rights. Idle No More, Rhodes Must Fall, the BDS movement for a Free Palestine and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests have all garnered international attention and trans-indigenous calls of solidarity. These politics have found their ways to literary productions, and many have dubbed the increase in Native American writings and the rapid growth in Indigenous Studies a cultural, literary, and academic renaissance.

Building on this historically significant moment, Transmotion is currently seeking submissions for a cross-disciplinary special issue on the topic of Native American Narratives in a Global Context: Comparative and Transnational Perspectives. The special issue builds on a panel entitled “Native American Literature in a Global Context” that took place at the 2017 meeting of the Native American Literature Symposium (NALS). This panel focused on Native American and First Nations literature in relation to South African, Palestinian and Middle Eastern writings.

In recent years, there has been an increase in Native American scholarship that attempts to consider separate and distinct histories, cultures and literatures in a comparative frame. In 2011, Daniel Heath Justice observed the number of Indigenous Studies scholars globally, “reaching out, learning about themselves and one another, looking for points of connection that reflect and respect both specificity and shared concern.” Jodi A Byrd, in The Transit of Empire (2011), employs the concept “transit” to describe the interconnectedness and continuum of colonial violence that implicated multiple peoples and spaces. In 2012, Chadwick Allen established the concept ‘Trans-Indigenous’ to develop a methodology for a global Native literary studies and, elsewhere, scholars have explored the potential for comparing Native American socio-historic perspectives with those of other colonized and oppressed people. In his latest book (2016), Steven Salaita adopts “inter/nationalism” as a term that embodies decolonial thought and expression, literary and otherwise, that surface in the intersectional moments between American Indian and Palestinian struggles. Similarly, there is a long tradition of Native American Indigenous authors exploring the transnational politics of oppression and the multidirectional movement of memory (Rothberg, 2008) in fiction, poetry and on stage: from Leslie Marmon Silko’s transcontinental decolonial revolution in Almanac of the Dead (1991) to Sherman Alexie’s reflections on Indigenous and Jewish experiences of genocide in ‘Inside Dachau’ (2011). These academic and creative projects cross the traditional disciplinary boundaries of indigenous, postcolonial, and settler colonial studies, bringing together histories and cultures that have rarely been considered alongside one another. But what, if any, is the relationship between these cultures? What is to be gained from studying, ostensibly at least, disparate literatures and societies in the same frame?

This special issue seeks to explore this new direction of Indigenous Studies, focusing on the significance of Native American, First Nations, and Indigenous American narratives in a global arena. We invite work that engages with historical or cultural narratives, spanning literature, art, film, or other modes of cultural production. Bringing together scholars researching Native American narratives in relation to diverse geographical and historical contexts, we hope to interrogate questions surrounding what comparative indigenous studies might look like and what potential it holds for transnational exchange on a global scale. A comparative focus foregrounds the distinct but interconnected experiences of (post-) colonial and disenfranchised communities across the world. A lens of this kind can expand and ask global questions on what it means to be native in specific colonial spaces and the ways through which one can analyze literary expressions that work towards decolonization in these contexts.

We particularly welcome submissions that engage with the following topics:

  • Comparative perspectives on Native American narratives in relation to (settler) colonial and postcolonial contexts.
  • Comparative perspectives on Native American experiences in relation to other global experiences with genocide or colonial violence.
  • Case studies that focus on Native American writing, artwork or other forms of cultural production that foreground cross-cultural movement or exchange.
  • Conceptual work that explores trans-indigenous studies as an emerging field of scholarship.
  • The benefits and/or limitations of comparative indigenous critique.
  • Comparative perspectives that challenge traditional understandings of indigeneity or post-coloniality.
  • The contemporary relevance of Native American narratives in a global context.
  • The benefits and/or limitations of teaching Native histories, cultures or literatures within a comparative frame.
  • Transnational activism and decolonial movements around Indigenous struggles.
  • Anti-colonial and Indigenous critiques of globalization, neoliberalism, and the modern nation-state.
  • The potential for decolonization through cross-cultural exchange or fostering of global connections, literary or otherwise.

We invite articles, creative pieces, or hybrid works that engage with these topics and which align aesthetically with the aforementioned editorial emphasis.

Any questions should be directed towards the Guest Editors: Rebecca Macklin, University of Leeds (r.macklin@leeds.ac.uk) and Eman Ghanayem, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (ghanaye2@illinois.edu).


  • Abstracts (up to 300 words) and brief author CV to be sent to the Guest Editors by 1st October 2017.
  • Accepted pieces will be due by 31 March 2018 and should be submitted directly to the Transmotionwebsite for peer review, in accordance with the journal guidelines.
  • Projected publication in Spring 2019.


October 1, 2017
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