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Mobilizing Indigeneity and Race Within and Against Settler Colonialism

Mobilities
Special Issue

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Highway 382 bridge over the Lower Flathead River near Perma, Montana. From 1954-1996, an eleven-inch steel pipe was suspended above the turquoise waters next to the bridge, part of the 558-mile Yellowstone Pipeline linking refineries in Billings, Montana to Moses Lake, Washington.
Highway 382 bridge over the Lower Flathead River near Perma, Montana. From 1954-1996, an eleven-inch steel pipe was suspended above the turquoise waters next to the bridge, part ofthe 558-mile Yellowstone Pipeline linking refineries in Billings, Montana to Moses Lake, Washington.

…what [might it] mean to think of Native peoples as becoming and belonging in movement rather than as stable and unchanging identities.

—Mishuana Goeman (2017, 105)

Settler colonial societies are, after all, stridently mobile formations.

—Georgine Clarsen (2017, 521)

This special issue begins with a pair of quotes—one from Mishuana Goeman (Tonawanda Band of Seneca), an interdisciplinary scholar of gender, sexuality, and space and place in Native American literature and culture; the other from Georgine Clarsen, an Australian historian who has worked diligently to integrate mobilities scholarship with studies of settler colonialism. “Mobilizing Indigeneity and race within and against settler colonialism” aims to bring these scholarly communities and their insights into more deliberate and sustained conversation. The editors argue for the urgency of integrating the ‘mobilities paradigm’ with Indigenous studies and ethnic studies analyses of settler colonialism, Indigeneity, and race; while the contributors offer rich and multi-sited empirical considerations of the movements and flows, as well as relations and containments, through which both settler colonialism and Indigeneity are produced. 

The editors argue for the urgency of integrating the ‘mobilities paradigm’ with Indigenous studies and ethnic studies analyses of settler colonialism, Indigeneity, and race.

The special issue explores the following questions: What are the relationships between mobility, race, and Indigeneity in settler colonial societies? How are the movements of people, animals, commodities, ideas, and practices related to the ongoing, dialectical making and unmaking of settler and Indigenous societies? How are these various movements narrated and contested in the cultural products and practices of settler states? What possibilities for decolonization and the full exercise of sovereignty, the rematriation of land, cultural revitalization, and racial justice might exist if we take into consideration past, present, and future mobilities together? 

As partial answers to these questions, the papers in the special issue offer new insights into settler colonialism’s mobile architectures, competing technologies of maritime mobility, decolonial forms of landscape conservation on travel corridors, how ‘voluntourism’ enables the crafting of white settler subjectivity, the roles of digital and new media for displaced peoples, and the question of what it means to move as a sovereign Indigenous nation, among other important themes.

Mindful of the political stakes of this scholarship, the editors and the contributors hope this conversation identifies points of vulnerability and strength that might push forward decolonization and incite Indigenous possibilities. 

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