Blood Narrative

Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts

Blood Narrative

New Americanists

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Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: Published: August 2002

Author: Chadwick Allen

American Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Blood Narrative is a comparative literary and cultural study of post-World War II literary and activist texts by New Zealand Maori and American Indians—groups who share much in their responses to European settler colonialism. Chadwick Allen reveals the complex narrative tactics employed by writers and activists in these societies that enabled them to realize unprecedented practical power in making both their voices and their own sense of indigeneity heard.
Allen shows how both Maori and Native Americans resisted the assimilationist tide rising out of World War II and how, in the 1960s and 1970s, they each experienced a renaissance of political and cultural activism and literary production that culminated in the formation of the first general assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. He focuses his comparison on two fronts: first, the blood/land/memory complex that refers to these groups' struggles to define indigeneity and to be freed from the definitions of authenticity imposed by dominant settler cultures. Allen's second focus is on the discourse of treaties between American Indians and the U.S. government and between Maori and Great Britain, which he contends offers strong legal and moral bases from which these indigenous minorities can argue land and resource rights as well as cultural and identity politics.
With its implicit critique of multiculturalism and of postcolonial studies that have tended to neglect the colonized status of indigenous First World minorities, Blood Narrative will appeal to students and scholars of literature, American and European history, multiculturalism, postcolonialism, and comparative cultural studies.


"Blood Narrative is recommended both for its localizations and its potential to spill over into adjacent fields of Indigenous study with impact." — Michael Jacklin , The Australian Journal of Anthropology

"Blood Narrative, by Chadwick Allen. . . ,is a welcome addition to post-modern studies, steeped in postcolonial theory." — Benjamin Kracht , History: Reviews of New Books

"[An] exemplary transnational project. . . . Allen's book displays-in addition to a broad grasp of certain theories, bodies of literature and criticism, and historical records-original, independent thinking. These strengths are complemented by the clarity and coherence of his prose. . . . This is a noteworthy book that deserves wide reading." — Stephen Tatum , Western American Literature

"[W]ell documented. . . . [T]he parallel that Allen traces between the Maoris and the American Indians is enlightening. It underlies significant differences as well as similarities between the two groups and explains well their respective development up to their entry onto the international stage." — Natacha Gagné , Pacific Affairs

"Allen's historical narrative is sturdy and useful. . . . [He] provides an ambitious synthetic and comparative work that fills some open scholarly niches and should be valuable for research and teaching." — Susan A. Miller , Studies in American Indian Literatures

"Chadwick Allen has produced a complex and significant study, which contributes to the growing body of research, writing and teaching in the comparative history of Indigenous Peoples. . . . [H]is work has created new understanding about both the meanings and contradictions of indigenous identity. . . . This book would be profitable reading for those Australians, both indigenous and non-indigenous, who seek recognition of the basic sovereign rights enshrined in a treaty." — Roderic Lacey, Journal of Pacific History

"Chadwick Allen has produced a groundbreaking, thought-provoking narrative on the evolution of Maori and American Indian thought during the 'indigenous renaissance' of the late twentieth century. . . . [T]he work is a significant contribution to the literature of New Zealand-American comparative studies." — Harry A. Kersey Jr., Journal of World History

"The strength of Allen's provocative book lies in its analysis of the literature that emerged during the Maori and American Indian 'renaissance' of the 1960s and early 1970s. . . . Allen's comparative study is worth a careful read for scholars interested in the construction of indigenous identities in postcolonial situations." — James O. Gump , Pacific Historical Review

"This study of the complex interplay of indigenous blood, land, and memory investigates with impressive skill and organization a subtle and often confounding moment in indigenous minority letters." — Sean Teuton , Interventions

"Blood Narrative is a valuable, wise, and thoughtful study." — Elizabeth Cook-Lynn , American Literature

“Chadwick Allen traces the ‘inseparable triad’ of blood, land, and memory in two cultures and distinct generations of indigenous writers and activists. Blood Narrative is an original, persuasive consideration of Native American Indian and New Zealand Maori tropes of indigenous identity. Natives and the Maori created viable identities in ‘dominant discourses’ during the Second World War, but the pride of national service was not a practicable source of indigenous identities in the simulations of postwar modernity. A generation later identities were constructed by political resistance, literary subversion, and cultural activism. Many writers have asserted ‘blood memory’ as a strategy of contemporary indigenous identity and survivance. Allen provides a cogent, astute critique of these memorable triads and complex turns of identity.” — Gerald Vizenor, University of California, Berkeley

“I cannot think of a more provocative or evocative title for a book that addresses the narrative tactics and activism of indigenous writings. Allen draws upon the tactical differences deployed by American Indian and New Zealand Maori writers to provide insights into the ways that indigenous minority writing has defined an enduring identity of indigeneity. Blood Narrative is elegantly written, provocative in some of its arguments, rich in examples and well worth reading.” — Linda Tuhiwai Smith, The University of Auckland


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Chadwick Allen is Assistant Professor of English at Ohio State University and Associate Editor of the journal Studies in American Indian Literatures.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Introduction: Marking the Indigenous in Indigenous Minority Texts

Part I. A Directed Self-Determination

1. A Marae on Paper: Writing a New Maori World in Te Ao Hou

2. Indian Truth: Debating Indigenous Identity after Indians in the War

Part II. An Indigenous Renaissance

3. Rebuilding the Ancestor: Constructing Self and Community in the Maori Renaissance

4. Blood/Land/Memory: Narrating Indigenous Identity in the American Indian Renaissance

Conclusion: Declaring a Fourth World

Appendix: Integrated Time Line, World War II to 1980



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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2947-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2929-9
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