Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts

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Published on: 2013/06/21

Title: Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts
Author: Allen, Chadwick
Imprint: Durham : Duke University Press, 2002
ISBN: 9780822329473
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撰文/鍾承育 Cheng-yu Jung

Chadwick Allen explores the construction indigenous identity by comparing post-World War II Native American and New Zealand Maori literary and activist texts in his Blood Narrative. The book title derives from Native American writer N. Scott Momaday’s (Kiowa) House Made of Dawn in which he writes: “Though she lived out her long life in the shadow of Rainy Mountain, the immense landscape of the continental interior—all of its seasons and its sounds—lay like memory in her blood” (114). Allen reads this passage as Momaday’s signature trope of blood narrative or memory in the blood. The trope, according to him, “achieves tropic power by blurring distinctions between racial identity (blood) and narrative (memory)” (Allen 1). He framed his critical essay “Blood (and) Memory” (1999) on Momaday’s works with the trope. And he further uses the same trope to structure a study of global indigenous literatures, namely Blood Narrative.

Blood Narrative investigates the formation of indigenous identities in contemporary Native American and Aotearoa/New Zealand Maori literary and activist texts which response to the colonialism of European settlers. Allen considers that Native Americans and Maoris experience European colonization: land confiscations and drastic population decline due to military conquest and imported diseases. And more significantly, the growth of literary production of the two became explosive beginning in the 1960s. Meanwhile both Native Americans and Maoris are “treaty partners” of their colonial governments.

The book is consisted of two parts. Part I includes texts produced from World War II to the 1960s; Part II, the 1960s to the 1970s. In Part I, Allen compares Native American texts by selecting government-sponsored Maori journal Te Ao Hou/The New World as the target text. The journal is published in Maori and English, making this bilingual juxtaposition a “contact zone” (34) if to put it in Pratt’s phrase. The bilingual arrangement allows the author to interpret blood/land/memory complex of identity formation in indigenous texts. The author discusses indigenous renaissance in Part II considering that contemporary Maori writers rebuild their ancestors through writing while Native American writers deploy blood memory that makes “mostly private American Indian memories–of strug-/gle, of perseverance, of survival—as public memory” (192-3).

Beside the trope of blood narrative, Allen also employs treaty discourse as a theoretical framework. In the Maori part, the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi defines the relationship between Maoris and the settler government; thus the Treaty becomes allegory for Maori writers. Yet Native American writers view treaty differently. Treaties are metaphors of “Indian-White relation” and “metonyms for the promise made—and most often broken—by the federal government” (20).

In the concluding chapter, Allen addresses the formation of international coalition by using an example of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) rendering blood/land/memory complex to a global scale. In a sense Blood Narrative articulates a global definition of indigenous minority identities.

 

查德維客‧亞倫(Chadwick Allen)是俄亥俄州立大學英文系教授,在他《血之敘事》(Blood Narrative)一書中,比較二次大戰後的美國原住民與紐西蘭毛利文學和行動主義文本,探討原住民身分認同的建構。書名出自於美國原住民作家斯科特‧莫馬戴(N. Scott Momaday)的小說《晨曦之屋》(House Made of Dawn)中的文字:「雖然她已在雨山的山陰邊過了大半輩子,內陸廣大土地的季節與聲音,就如同她血液裡的記憶」。而作者解讀這段文字為莫馬戴血之記憶或是血液中的記憶的識別比喻。他認為這個比喻模糊了種族認同(血液)與敘事(記憶)之間的區別。作者首先用此比喻在〈血與記憶〉一文中詮釋莫馬戴的作品。而他進一步用這比喻建構世界原住民文學的研究:《血之敘事》一書。

《血之敘事》以當代美國原住民與紐西蘭毛利回應歐洲移民殖民主義的文學與行動主義文本,探討原住民的身分認同。作者認為美國原住民與毛利人都歷經歐洲移民的殖民,如失去土地,以及人口因為殖民戰爭與外來的疾病而劇烈減少,更值得注意的是兩者文學的產量在1960年代均大幅增加,此外兩者也都是殖民政府的「條約夥伴」(treaty partners)。

本書的第一部分收錄了二次大戰至1960年代之間的文本,第二部則收錄了1960年代至1970年代的文本。作者在第一部選了由政府資助的毛利期刊《塔奧胡/新世界》作為與美國原住民作家作品比較的文本。這本英語與毛利語的期刊使雙語的並置,成為學者普瑞特所提出的「接觸帶」(contact zone)之比喻。而這雙語的空間使作者能在原住民文本中詮釋血液/土地/記憶綜合體的認同形成。作者在本書的第二部提到原住民文藝復興,認為當代毛利作家藉由書寫重造了祖先,而美國原住民作家則運用血液的記憶使私人的,關於美國印第安對抗、堅忍、與生存的記憶成為共有的記憶。

除了血之敘事的比喻之外,作者也運用了條約論述作為一種理論架構。在毛利人的部份,1840年的懷坦基條約定義了毛利人與政府之間的關係,因此條約對毛利作家成了一種象徵。然而美國原住民作家卻認為條約是印第安與白人之間的隱喻與聯邦政府做出承諾之後又打破承諾的轉喻。

作者在最終章用全球原住民會議為例子,提到國際結合的形成,而把血液/土地/記憶綜合體轉化為全球性的規模,從這方面而言,《血之敘事》表達了世界定義的原住民少數族群的身分認同。

 

Works Cited
Allen, Chadwick. Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American and Maori Literary and Activist Texts. Durham: Duke UP, 2002.
Momaday, Scott. House Made of Dawn. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.
Pratt, Mary Louise. “Arts of the Contact Zone.” Profession (1991): 33-40.

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