Critically Sovereign

Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 5 illustrations Published: April 2017

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, LGBTQ Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies

Critically Sovereign traces the ways in which gender is inextricably a part of Indigenous politics and U.S. and Canadian imperialism and colonialism. The contributors show how gender, sexuality, and feminism work as co-productive forces of Native American and Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination, and epistemology. Several essays use a range of literary and legal texts to analyze the production of colonial space, the biopolitics of “Indianness,” and the collisions and collusions between queer theory and colonialism within Indigenous studies. Others address the U.S. government’s criminalization of traditional forms of Diné marriage and sexuality, the Iñupiat people's changing conceptions of masculinity as they embrace the processes of globalization, Hawai‘i’s same-sex marriage bill, and stories of Indigenous women falling in love with non-human beings such as animals, plants, and stars. Following the politics of gender, sexuality, and feminism across these diverse historical and cultural contexts, the contributors question and reframe the thinking about Indigenous knowledge, nationhood, citizenship, history, identity, belonging, and the possibilities for a decolonial future.

Contributors. Jodi A. Byrd, Joanne Barker, Jennifer Nez Denetdale, Mishuana Goeman,  J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Melissa K. Nelson, Jessica Bissett Perea, Mark Rifkin


Critically Sovereign is not only a necessary reading for those studying Indigenous politics, it should also be considered a required reading for scholars and activists who study race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and colonialism.”

— Brionca Taylor, Gender & Society

"Through a collective of brilliant voices, the essays in this book grapple with the significance of gender, sexuality, and politics with searing wisdom. Critically Sovereign gives readers a reason to hope for a decolonized tomorrow." — Dianca Potts, Signature

"A powerful and urgently needed anthology. . . . Critically Sovereign is an essential text for anyone engaged in feminist and queer theory or projects of decolonization." — Stephanie Lumsden, American Indian Culture and Research Journal

"Critically Sovereign offers a strong addition to scholarship or graduate-level coursework engaged with global feminisms. . . . Critically Sovereign provides a timely entry point into the seismic stakes and shifts within Native American and Indigenous studies." — Kirisitina Sailiata, Feminist Review

"This collection rejects the elimination of the Indigenous through the erasure of gender and sexuality. For the queer, femme, and two-spirit people at the center of Indigenous movements for autonomy and freedom, this is a deeply important project. Critically Sovereign is an opening salvo in what I hope is a burgeoning intellectual and intersectional field."
  — Anne Spice, Women's Studies Quarterly

"For those of us seeking to grow our equity work in educational settings, reading essays like those in this collection allow us to privilege-check our own approaches. The denseness of the material aside, each piece acts as a motivator for equity work and as a reminder that this work cannot be done in a vacuum, and can never be complete without an understanding of intersectionality." — Tracey Germa, Education Forum

"Most impressive in this collection is perhaps Barker's introduction, which seems to insist on historically and geographically situating this text within a constellation of movements, both political and scholarly. In fact, Barker's introduction is so thorough that I imagine it could become standard reading within Indigenous studies and feminist studies classes as a way to map these fields for both emerging and established students. . . . The collection as a whole pushes readers to challenge traditional notions of rights ideologies that have ultimately enabled further legitimacy to be exercised by the settler state." — Jamaica Osorio, Hypatia Reviews Online

"This book would be extremely beneficial to anyone studying Indigenous studies, gender and sexuality studies, American studies, and particularly those in the fields of law or literature although the discipline-specific terminology throughout can make it inaccessible at times." — Caroline ‘Charlie’ Williams, European Journal of American Culture

"Critically Sovereign is pure Indigenous brilliance from start to finish, making intelligent, incisive, and elegant interventions in fields often wrought by division and controversy. These outstanding essays embody the highest levels of excellence and ground conversations around gender, sexuality, and feminist studies in the proper frame—Indigenous self-determination. This is a book I've been waiting for." — Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of Dancing on Our Turtle's Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence

"This volume argues compellingly that Indigenous peoplehood, landed inhabitance, and interrogations of the power of settler states should focalize theories of gender and sexuality, and that gender and sexual politics must be understood as being key to the very question of indigeneity within Indigenous studies. Critically Sovereign will have a lasting impact within numerous fields for years to come." — Scott L. Morgensen, author of Spaces between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Joanne Barker is Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University, the author of Native Acts: Law, Recognition, and Cultural Authenticity, also published by Duke University Press, and the editor of Sovereignty Matters: Locations of Contestation and Possibility in Indigenous Struggles for Self-Determination.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction. Critically Sovereign / Joanne Barker  1
1. Indigenous Hawaiian Sexuality and the Politics of Nationalist Decolonization / J. Kehaulani Kauanui  45
2. Return to "The Uprising at Beautiful Mountain in 1913": Marriage and Sexuality in the Making of the Modern Navajo Nation / Jennifer Nez Denetdale  69
3. Ongoing Storms and Struggles: Gendered Violence and Resource Exploitation / Mishuana R. Goeman  99
4. Audiovisualizing Inupiaq Men and Masculinities On the Ice / Jessica Bissett Perrea  127
5. Around 1978: Family, Culture, and Race in the Federal Production of Indianness / Mark Rifkin  169
6. Loving Unbecoming: The Queer Politics of the Transitive Native / Jodi A. Byrd  207
7. Getting Dirty: The Eco-Eroticism of Women in Indigenous Oral Literatures / Melissa K. Nelson  229
Contributor Biographies  261
Index  263
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top