Incommensurability and survivance: Native North American literature and federal law

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This essay analyses the frequent portrayal of courtroom scenes by Native American writers in which Native American rhetoric is employed subversively by fictional defendants and witnesses. I argue that these portrayals challenge the assumptions and power of federal legal rhetoric, with an insistence upon the cultural difference between European American and Native American belief systems. By employing Homi Bhabha's concept of incommensurability in dialogue with Gerald Vizenor's concept of Native American survivance, the essay proposes that the employment of Native American rhetoric is a performance of cultural difference that challenges dominant American ideology in an act of survivance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-467
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Postcolonial Writing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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