cover image

Performing Indigeneity

Global Histories and Contemporary Experiences

Laura R. Graham

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 12/2014
Pages: 464
Subject: Social Science
eBook ISBN: 9780803274167


This engaging collection of essays discusses the complexities of “being” indigenous in public spaces. Laura R. Graham and H. Glenn Penny bring together a set of highly recognized junior and senior scholars, including indigenous scholars, from a variety of fields to provoke critical thinking about the many ways in which individuals and social groups construct and display unique identities around the world. The case studies in Performing Indigeneity underscore the social, historical, and immediate contextual factors at play when indigenous people make decisions about when, how, why, and who can “be” indigenous in public spaces.   Performing Indigeneity invites readers to consider how groups and individuals think about performance and display and focuses attention on the ways that public spheres, both indigenous and nonindigenous ones, have received these performances. The essays demonstrate that performance and display are essential to the creation and persistence of indigeneity, while also presenting the conundrum that in many cases “indigeneity” excludes some of the voices or identities that the category purports to represent.    


Laura R. Graham is a professor of anthropology at the University of Iowa. She is a filmmaker and author of Performing Dreams: Discourses of Immortality among the Xavante Indians of Central Brazil. H. Glenn Penny is an associate professor of modern European history at the University of Iowa. His most recent book is Kindred by Choice: Germans and American Indians since 1800. 


“Performing Indigeneities lays out a sophisticated treatment of the cross-cultural politics embodied in the productive but hard-to-define category ‘indigeneity.’ Laura Graham and Glenn Penny’s ground-breaking collection brilliantly guides readers through the emergence and renegotiation of such tropes as cultural heritage, human rights, environment, and aboriginality.”—Philip J. Deloria, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of History and American Culture at the University of Michigan and author of Indians in Unexpected Places

“One is not born indigenous. That’s the far-reaching upshot of this remarkable collection, which radically expands our notion of indigeneity. Along with their collaborators, Laura Graham and Glenn Penny break with any sense of essential selfhood, giving us a performative and dialogic concept that sees the indigenous as a creative space of collective imagination.”—Matti Bunzl, professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois

“This terrific set of essays brings together some of the best and freshest thinking in a field burgeoning with creativity. Native arts and activism are flourishing, and so are interdisciplinary conversations about Indigeneity. Every chapter offers surprises: gems of insight from unexpected angles. This is a bold step forward.”—Beth A. Conklin, chair of the Department of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University and author of Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society