From Place to Territories and Back Again
Centering Storied Land in the discussion of Indigenous Nation-building
This article explores the geopolitical importance of the word “land” to the field of Indigenous studies. Rather than simply take the word “land” as a given and natural element of the world around us, in this article I suggest a closer interrogation of the multiple social and geopolitical meanings that make land a key concept in indigenous political struggle. The processes of colonialism and neocolonialism resulted in abstracting land as part of making nations that are recognized by the liberal settler nation-states. How have concepts of land changed in this process? How do we make Indigenous spaces that are not based on abstracting land and Indigenous bodies into state spaces, while maintaining political vitality? How are the lived realities of Indigenous peoples impacted by concepts of borders and territories that support the power of the nation-state? I draw on the narrative dimensions of land in the work of Indigenous writers in order to intercede in limiting the meanings of land to those mapped by the state.