Books for review

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#Naming the World

#Report of an Inquiry into an Injustice

#Rooster Town

#Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty

#Unsustainable Empire

#Unruly Visions

#Big Water

#Between the Andes and the Amazon

#A World of Many Worlds

#Designs for the Pluriverse

#Grounded Authority

#Gambling on Authenticity

#Floating Islanders


Book reviews are up to 1,000 words long and should be guided by a discussion of the engaged debate, position the book in its field of literature and give a few points of information on the author’s background. Book reviewers should neither be uncritically advocating for the book by offering an overly meticulous summary without analysis, nor should they take the book that is to be discussed as an occasion for presenting the reviewer’s own views on a theme or topic. Book reviews are assessed by the Editors.
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  • What is the standpoint from which the author speaks in relation to Indigenous peoples? Does the author respect Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing on an equal basis with the knowledge-ways of the West?
  • How does the author describe Indigenous peoples and knowledges? Does the author employ language that implicitly assumes that Indigenous systems are inferior to Western systems (for example by describing Indigenous knowledges, cultures and histories using terms such as: irrational, primitive, unscientific, naïve, simple, folklore, stone age, or pre-history)

To the extent that this can be determined, what was the research process for producing the work and was that process ethical? For example, if the work being reviewed includes Indigenous knowledge such as a cultural narrative, the issues to be considered include whether the rights of Indigenous knowledge-holders have been protected (for example, do they hold copyright in their narrative) and what (if any) benefits the knowledge-holders and/or their communities derive from the research. Some jurisdictions will have best practice guidelines for research relating to Indigenous peoples that give an indication of the issues in relation to research – for example, in Australia, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Guidelines for Ethical Research, the Te Ara Tika guidelines in New Zealand, or in Canada, the SSHRC Aboriginal Research Statement of Principles For further information on AlterNative's Submission Guidelines, click here
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The current listing of all books available for review:

Naming the World: Language and Power Among the Northern Arapaho

Andrew Cowell, Author
Publisher: The University of Arizona Press, 2018
Naming the World examines language shift among the Northern Arapaho of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming, and the community’s diverse responses as it seeks social continuity. Andrew Cowell argues that, rather than a single “Arapaho culture,” we find five distinctive communities of practice on the reservation, each with differing perspectives on social and more-than-human power and the human relationships that enact power.
As the Arapaho people resist Euro-American assimilation or domination, the Arapaho language and the idea that the language is sacred are key rallying points—but also key points of contestation. Cowell finds that while many at Wind River see the language as crucial for maintaining access to more-than-human power, others primarily view the language in terms of peer-oriented identities as Arapaho, Indian, or non-White. These different views lead to quite different language usage and attitudes in relation to place naming, personal naming, cultural metaphors, new word formation, and the understudied practice of folk etymology.
Cowell presents data from conversations and other natural discourse to show the diversity of everyday speech and attitudes, and he links these data to broader debates at Wind River and globally about the future organization of indigenous societies and the nature of Arapaho and indigenous identity.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-03/18

Report of an Inquiry into an Injustice:Begade Shutagot’ine and the Sahtu Treaty

Peter Kulchyski, Author

Publisher: University of Manitoba Press, 2018
A Report of an Inquiry into an Injustice chronicles Peter Kulchyski’s experiences with the Begade Shutagot’ine, a small community of a few hundred people living in and around Tulita (formerly Fort Norman), on the Mackenzie River in the heart of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Despite their formal objections and boycott of the agreement, the band and their lands were included in the Sahtu treaty, a modern comprehensive land claims agreement negotiated between the Government of Canada and the Sahtu Tribal Council, representing Dene and Metis peoples of the region. While both Treaty Eleven (1921) and the Sahtu Treaty (1994) purport to extinguish Begade Shutagot’ine Aboriginal title, oral history and documented attempts to exclude themselves from treaty strongly challenge the validity of that extinguishment.
Structured as a series of briefs to an inquiry into the Begade Shutagot’ine’s claim, this manuscript documents the negotiation and implementation of the Sahtu treaty and amasses evidence of historical and continued presence and land use to make eminently clear that the Begade Shutagot’ine are the continued owners of the land by law: they have not extinguished title to their traditional territories; they continue to exercise their customs, practices, and traditions on those territories; and they have a fundamental right to be consulted on, and refuse or be compensated for, development projects on those territories. Kulchyski bears eloquent witness to the Begade Shutagot’ine people’s two-decade struggle for land rights, which have been blatantly ignored by federal and territorial authorities for too long.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-04/18

Rooster Town: The History of an Urban Métis Community, 1901–1961

Evelyn Peters, Matthew Stock, Adrian Werner, Authors
Publisher: Univrersity of Manitoba Press, 2018
Melonville. Smokey Hollow. Bannock Town. Fort Tuyau. Little Chicago. Mud Flats. Pumpville. Tintown. La Coulee. These were some of the names given to Métis communities at the edges of urban areas in Manitoba. Rooster Town, which was on the outskirts of southwest Winnipeg, endured from 1901 to 1961.
Those years in Winnipeg were characterized by the twin pressures of depression and inflation, chronic housing shortages, and a spotty social support network. At the city’s edge, Rooster Town grew without city services as rural Métis arrived to participate in the urban economy and build their own houses while keeping Métis culture and community as a central part of their lives.
In other growing settler cities, the Indigenous experience was largely characterized by removal and confinement. But the continuing presence of Métis living and working in the city, and the establishment of Rooster Town itself, made the Winnipeg experience unique.
Rooster Town documents the story of a community rooted in kinship, culture, and historical circumstance, whose residents existed unofficially in the cracks of municipal bureaucracy, while navigating the legacy of settler colonialism and the demands of modernity and urbanization.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-06/18

Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Author
Publisher: Duke University Press, 2018
In Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty J. Kehaulani Kauanui examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law. She theorizes paradoxes in the laws themselves and in nationalist assertions of Hawaiian Kingdom restoration and demands for U.S. deoccupation, which echo colonialist models of governance. Kauanui argues that Hawaiian elites' approaches to reforming and regulating land, gender, and sexuality in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism today, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of the Kanaka Maoli (Indigenous Hawaiian) people. Problematizing the ways the positing of the Hawaiian Kingdom's continued existence has been accompanied by a denial of U.S. settler colonialism, Kauanui considers possibilities for a decolonial approach to Hawaiian sovereignty that would address the privatization and capitalist development of land and the ongoing legacy of the imposition of heteropatriarchal modes of social relations.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-07/18

Unsustainable Empire: Alternative Histories of Hawai‘i Statehood

Saranillio, Dean Itsuji, Author
Publisher: Duke University Press, 2018
In Unsustainable Empire Dean Itsuji Saranillio offers a bold challenge to conventional understandings of Hawai‘i’s admission as a U.S. state. Hawai‘i statehood is popularly remembered as a civil rights victory against racist claims that Hawai‘i was undeserving of statehood because it was a largely non-white territory. Yet Native Hawaiian opposition to statehood has been all but forgotten. Saranillio tracks these disparate stories by marshaling a variety of unexpected genres and archives: exhibits at world's fairs, political cartoons, propaganda films, a multimillion-dollar hoax on Hawai‘i’s tourism industry, water struggles, and stories of hauntings, among others. Saranillio shows that statehood was neither the expansion of U.S. democracy nor a strong nation swallowing a weak and feeble island nation, but the result of a U.S. nation whose economy was unsustainable without enacting a more aggressive policy of imperialism. With clarity and persuasive force about historically and ethically complex issues, Unsustainable Empire provides a more complicated understanding of Hawai‘i’s admission as the fiftieth state and why Native Hawaiian place-based alternatives to U.S. empire are urgently needed.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-08/18

Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora

Gayatri Gopinath, Author
Publisher: Duke University Press, 2018
In Unruly Visions Gayatri Gopinath brings queer studies to bear on investigations of diaspora and visuality, tracing the interrelation of affect, archive, region, and aesthetics through an examination of a wide range of contemporary queer visual culture. Spanning film, fine art, poetry, and photography, these cultural forms—which Gopinath conceptualizes as aesthetic practices of queer diaspora—reveal the intimacies of seemingly disparate histories of (post)colonial dwelling and displacement and are a product of diasporic trajectories. Countering standard formulations of diaspora that inevitably foreground the nation-state, as well as familiar formulations of queerness that ignore regional gender and sexual formations, she stages unexpected encounters between works by South Asian, Middle Eastern, African, Australian, and Latinx artists such as Tracey Moffatt, Akram Zaatari, and Allan deSouza. Gopinath shows how their art functions as regional queer archives that express alternative understandings of time, space, and relationality. The queer optics produced by these visual practices creates South-to-South, region-to-region, and diaspora-to-region cartographies that profoundly challenge disciplinary and area studies rubrics. Gopinath thereby provides new critical perspectives on settler colonialism, empire, military occupation, racialization, and diasporic dislocation as they indelibly mark both bodies and landscapes.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-10/18


Big Water: The Making of the Borderlands Between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay

Jacob Blanc and Frederico Freitas Editors
Shawn Michael Austin, Jacob Blanc, Bridget María Chesterton, Christine Folch, Zephyr Frank, Frederico Freitas, Michael Kenneth Huner, Evaldo Mendes da Silva, Eunice Sueli Nodari, Graciela Silvestri, Guillermo Wilde, Daryle Williams, Authors
Foreword by Zephyr Frank
Publisher: The University of Arizona Press, 2018
Big Water explores four centuries of the overlapping histories of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay (the Triple Frontier), and the colonies that preceded them. Examining an important area that includes some of the first national parks established in Latin America and one of the world’s largest hydroelectric dams, this transnational approach illustrates how these three nation-states have interacted over time.
From the Jesuit reductions in the seventeenth century to the flows of capital and goods accelerated by contemporary trade agreements, the Triple Frontier region has proven fundamental to the development of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, as well as to the Southern Cone and South America itself. Although historians from each of these three countries have tended to construct narratives that stop at their respective borders, the contributors call for a reinterpretation that goes beyond the material and conceptual boundaries of the Triple Frontier. In offering a transnational approach, Big Water helps transcend nation-centered blind spots and approach new understandings of how space and society have developed throughout Latin America.
These essays complicate traditional frontier histories and balance the excessive weight previously given to empires, nations, and territorial expansion. Overcoming stagnant comparisons between national cases, the research explores regional identity beyond border and geopolitical divides. Thus, Big Water focuses on the uniquely overlapping character of the Triple Frontier and emphasizes a perspective usually left at the periphery of national histories.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-12/18

Between the Andes and the Amazon: Language and Social Meaning in Bolivia

Anna M. Babel, Author
Publisher: The University of Arizona Press, 2018
Why can’t a Quechua speaker wear pants? Anna M. Babel uses this question to open an analysis of language and social structure at the border of eastern and western, highland and lowland Bolivia. Through an exploration of categories such as political affiliation, ethnic identity, style of dress, and history of migration, she describes the ways that people understand themselves and others as Quechua speakers, Spanish speakers, or something in between.
Between the Andes and the Amazon is ethnography in storytelling form, a rigorous yet sensitive exploration of how people understand themselves and others as members of social groups through the words and languages they use.
Drawing on fifteen years of ethnographic research, Babel offers a close examination of how people produce oppositions, even as they might position themselves “in between” those categories. These oppositions form the raw material of the social system that people accept as “normal” or “the way things are.” Meaning-making happens through language use and language play, Babel explains, and the practice of using Spanish versus Quechua is a claim to an identity or a social position. Babel gives personal perspectives on what it is like to live in this community, focusing on her own experiences and those of her key consultants. Between the Andes and the Amazon opens new ways of thinking about what it means to be a speaker of an indigenous or colonial language—or a mix of both.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-13/18

A World of Many Worlds

Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser, Editors
John Law, Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Isabelle Stengers, Helen Verran, Deborah Danowski, Marianne Elisabeth Lien, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Marilyn Strathern, Authors
Publisher: Duke University Press, 2018
A World of Many Worlds is a search into the possibilities that may emerge from conversations between indigenous collectives and the study of science's philosophical production. The contributors explore how divergent knowledges and practices make worlds. They work with difference and sameness, recursion, divergence, political ontology, cosmopolitics, and relations, using them as concepts, methods, and analytics to open up possibilities for a pluriverse: a cosmos composed through divergent political practices that do not need to become the same.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-15/18

Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds

Arturo Escobar, Author
Publisher: Duke University Press, 2017
In Designs for the Pluriverse Arturo Escobar presents a new vision of design theory and practice aimed at channeling design's world-making capacity toward ways of being and doing that are deeply attuned to justice and the Earth. Noting that most design—from consumer goods and digital technologies to built environments—currently serves capitalist ends, Escobar argues for the development of an “autonomous design” that eschews commercial and modernizing aims in favor of more collaborative and placed-based approaches. Such design attends to questions of environment, experience, and politics while focusing on the production of human experience based on the radical interdependence of all beings. Mapping autonomous design’s principles to the history of decolonial efforts of indigenous and Afro-descended people in Latin America, Escobar shows how refiguring current design practices could lead to the creation of more just and sustainable social orders.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-01/17

Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake against the State

Shiri Pasternak, Author
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press, 2017
A rare, in-depth critique of federal land claims policy in Canada.
From the perspective of Indigenous law and jurisdiction, Shiri Pasternak tells the story of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, in western Quebec, and their tireless resistance to federal land claims policy. A rigorous account of the Algonquins’ incredible struggle, Grounded Authority provides a vital contribution to current debates in the study of colonialism and Indigenous peoples in North America and globally.
Grounded Authority is a powerful and compelling study based upon a sophisticated grasp of Indigenous politics, settler colonial logics, and political theory.
—Kevin Bruyneel, author of The Third Space of Sovereignty: The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.–Indigenous Relations
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-03/17

Gambling on Authenticity: Gaming, the Noble Savage, and the Not-So-New Indian

Becca Gercken and Julie Pelletier, Editors
Publisher: Michigan State University Press, 2017
In the decades since the passing of the  Pamajewon ruling in Canada and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in the United States, gaming has come to play a crucial role in how Indigenous peoples are represented and read by both Indians and non-Indians alike. This collection presents a transnational examination of North American gaming and considers the role Indigenous artists and scholars play in producing depictions of Indigenous gambling. In an effort to offer a more complete and nuanced picture of Indigenous gaming in terms of sign and strategy than currently exists in academia or the general public, Gambling on Authenticity crosses both disciplinary and geographic boundaries. The case studies presented offer a historically and politically nuanced analysis of gaming that collectively creates an interdisciplinary reading of gaming informed by both the social sciences and the humanities. A great tool for the classroom, Gambling on Authenticity works to illuminate the not-so-new Indian being formed in the public's consciousness by and through gaming.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-04/17

Floating Islanders: Pasifika Theatre in Aotearoa

Lisa Warrington and David O'Donnell, Authors
Publisher: Otago University Press, 2017
‘We float – we’re not based in one place – we’re floating Islanders. I always come back to theatre, theatre is my first home.’ – Makerita Urale
Floating Islanders: Pasifika Theatre in Aotearoa celebrates 30 rich years of Pasifika theatre in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Authors Lisa Warrington and David O’Donnell have interviewed over 30 theatre practitioners – playwrights, directors and performers whose heritage lies in Samoa, Niue, Fiji, Tonga, Tokelau and the Cook Islands.
This book features the achievements of many individuals and theatre companies, including Pacific Underground, Pacific Theatre Inc, The Laughing Samoans, The Conch, The Naked Samoans, Black Friars, We Should Practice and Kila Kokonut Krew amongst others, and provides a vivid and insightful guide to the diversity of styles and themes of Pasifika theatre.
The immigrant experience of living in two worlds is often seen as troubled, but co-author Lisa Warrington says this ‘in-between-ness’ has been turned to advantage in Pasifika theatre to create unique and often subversive performances.
“Pasifika theatre has become a major platform of expression for stories of the Pacific diaspora, with themes such as migration, family, cultural identity and the questioning of stereotypes,” says Warrington.
Not only is Pasifika theatre a success story within the performing arts in New Zealand, it is also an intriguing case study of migrant theatre that has international resonance, says co-author David O’Donnell.
“These artists are part of a larger movement of Pasifika creativity in visual arts, music, film, television and literature. They demonstrate creative energy, humour and enterprise, and embrace collective creation and cross-cultural input.”
Floating Islanders features a comprehensive performance listing as well as 32 pages of stunning colour and black and white photographs of practitioners and performances.
To inquire, click here: ALT CODE: BR-06/17