First Nation, Empire, and Globalization

Andrea Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199273881
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

First Nation, Empire, and Globalization

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In his analysis of postmodern theology, which details the imbrication of theology in discourses of power, Gavin Hyman casually evokes the term “Indian territory” to connote the space from which the theologian must resort to the tactics of the “outlaw.” In his larger argument, he evokes an Agamban-like state of exception for theology, where theology must be conducted in the realm of radical undecidability, a theology excluded from but belonging to the law, as it were. So, it is significant that, to make this argument, Hyman relies on the obvious racist connotation of Natives as “outlaws” who live in a place without a home. This chapter argues that this tendency to depict Natives as “outlaws” is not unique to Hyman, but exists even within feminist and liberation theologies. That is, the United States, despite the critiques which many theologians make of it, is still envisaged as a place of law, thereby rending Native peoples, whose genocide is the foundation of the USA, outside the law. Consequently, the theological strategy of engagement with Native peoples does resemble the tactic of “raid and return”: that is, a selective use of “indigenous” principles without engagement in the fundamental contradiction indigenous peoples expose in the project of liberation. Furthermore, this problematic engagement is fundamentally gendered.

Keywords: Indian territory; Native theology; outlaws; feminist theology; Native peoples; indigenous peoples

Article.  12576 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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