Beyond Settler Time

Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: Published: February 2017

Author: Mark Rifkin

American Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Queer Theory

What does it mean to say that Native peoples exist in the present?  In Beyond Settler Time Mark Rifkin investigates the dangers of seeking to include Indigenous peoples within settler temporal frameworks. Claims that Native peoples should be recognized as coeval with Euro-Americans, Rifkin argues, implicitly treat dominant non-native ideologies and institutions as the basis for defining time itself. How, though, can Native peoples be understood as dynamic and changing while also not assuming that they belong to a present inherently shared with non-natives? Drawing on physics, phenomenology, queer studies, and postcolonial theory, Rifkin develops the concept of "settler time" to address how Native peoples are both consigned to the past and inserted into the present in ways that normalize non-native histories, geographies, and expectations. Through analysis of various kinds of texts, including government documents, film, fiction, and autobiography, he explores how Native experiences of time exceed and defy such settler impositions. In underscoring the existence of multiple temporalities, Rifkin illustrates how time plays a crucial role in Indigenous peoples’ expressions of sovereignty and struggles for self-determination.


"Rifkin offers the compelling argument that challenging normative settler time engenders new possibilities for Native articulations of futurity." — Stephanie Lumsden, Studies in American Indian Literatures

"Rifkin’s book presents a novel and ambitious perspective in analysing the process of land dispossession and forced assimilation of Native Americans during the consolidation of the U.S. national state in the nineteenth century and its afterlife." — Carolina Aguilera, Ethnic and Racial Studies

"Invoking the tool of (alternative) temporalities to examine Native and non-Native existence and the possibility of a successful, non-colonial co-existence is a fascinating move that disrupts the usual modes of examining Indigenous and non-Indigenous conversation and cultural differences." — Abigail Klassen, Canadian Journal of Native Studies

"By indicating for his readers ways in which we might begin to think of ourselves as inhabiting multiple temporalities, or as residing alongside others whose temporalities differ from our own, Rifkin seeks to make possible a kind of temporal equality." — Jill Stauffer, Law, Culture, and the Humanities

"Engages a fascinating combination of literary texts, legal decisions, legal policy and historical documents." — Krista L. Benson, Feminist Theory

"A theoretically robust and intellectually satisfying work that challenges readers to think differently not only about the past, but also about time. . . . A welcome addition to the robust body of interdisciplinary writing that has become renowned for its thick descriptions of space and place. . . . Rifkin’s approach is innovative, his analysis is theoretically sophisticated, the scaffolding upon which his analysis hangs is inspiring, and the vocabulary he advances is both useful and empowering." — Kieth Thor Carlson, American Historical Review

"A quite brilliant work of theory. . . ." — James Mackay, American Literary History

"Rifkin’s work moves us toward a more expansive understanding of the ways in which collective memory, ceremonial practices, prophesy, oral traditions, and place- based knowledges inform Indigenous corpo-realities and shape quotidian experiences of synchronously felt pasts, presents, and futures. This text is a critical addition to Native American studies and should be read by all striving for a decolonial future."
  — Sarah Whitt, American Indian Quarterly

"It is impossible in a brief review to do justice to the full richness of Beyond Settler Time. Rifkin is meticulous in positioning his own work in relation to other scholarship, and while at times this forces the reader to work through the extant discourse surrounding a particular novel or text to get at the new interpretive kernel, that work is always rewarding. . . . Beyond Settler Time is a valuable contribution to the field of indigenous studies." — David J. Carlson, Journal of American Studies

"Beyond Settler Time provides a necessary and important intervention in theorizations of time in Native American literature and history. Rifkin presents a set of analytic tools that scholars can employ when engaging Indigenous texts with temporal formations, shedding light upon crucial differences in Native American conceptions of time, place, and becoming." — Penelope Kelsey, Western American Literature

"Mark Rifkin's compelling book breaks new grounds and new temporalities, serving to further illuminate the ways that settler colonialism structures the political and everyday life of Indigenous peoples in the United States. As with Rifkin's previous work, Beyond Settler Time is a must-read for those in Indigenous studies, settler colonial studies, and queer studies." — Mishuana Goeman, author of Mark My Words: Native Women Mapping Our Nations

"Beyond Settler Time is a magnificent book. Already at the very top of his field, Mark Rifkin clarifies with depth and lucidity how Native American genocide was achieved through the violent imposition of settler time, while showing us how to conceptualize temporalities based in the Native American experience without resorting to models of tradition or modernity. His phenomenological approach, combined with historical rigor, careful readings of aesthetic and documentary texts, and astute political analysis, makes for a very illuminating read." — Elizabeth Freeman, author of Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories


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Price: $26.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mark Rifkin is Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program and Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and the author of several books, including Settler Common Sense: Queerness and Everyday Colonialism in the American Renaissance.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  vii
Acknowledgments  xv
1. Indigenous Orientations  1
2. The Silence of Ely S. Parker  49
3. The Duration of the Land  95
4. Ghost Dancing at Century's End  129
Coda. Deferring Juridical Time  179
Notes  193
Bibliography  241
Index  269
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6297-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6285-2
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