Saturday, March 23, 2013

The View from Mystic Lake

March 23, 2013 -- This year's Native American Literature Symposium wraps up today at Mystic Lake, a casino, hotel, convention center, golf course, and RV park outside Minneapolis. The complex is owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community. NALS 2013 featured a conversation with filmmakers Alex Smith and Chaske Spencer, a performance by world champion fancy dancers, and screenings of video essays, among other events. On Friday, RBM read excerpts from "The Land of Infinite Variety," a critical essay on tourism and travel writing in the Dakotas. Here's one of those excerpts and two slides from the presentation:
A scenario charged with appearances and a certain sense of wonder—that's where I want to begin this inquiry, recognizing that the men who hold sway On the Rez (2000) and across the Infinite West (2012), like their predecessors in “Indian Warning,” cannot help but regard the Other, to some degree, with ambivalence, that “troubled dream” which haunts Conrad, Naipaul, and Homi Bhabha’s other exemplars. I am to examine the traveler’s gaze, then, and also to show, as David Spurr has done in reference to Bhabha with The Rhetoric of Empire (1993), that such “terms of authority, once given voice, are far from having a direct and unambiguous effect”; that “colonial discourse in general is, at some level, always divided against itself”; and that this quality might even grant the postcolonial travelogue a measure of redemption.
On the left: Ian Frazier and Fraser Harrison

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