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Comparative American Studies

CAST 326
Oberlin College
Spring 2011

CAST 326
Performing Sovereignty: Reservations, Militarism, and the Politics of Native America
*This is a gateway course to the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies major*

Dr. Kara Thompson
W: 7-9 pm
King 327

CONTACT
E-mail: kara.thompson@oberlin.edu
Office: King 141F
Office hours: MW 11-1

COURSE DESCRIPTION

The main objective of this course is to understand how sovereignty is both paradoxical and performative. We will
begin with an examination of sovereignty from a philosophical perspective by focusing mainly on Giorgio
Agambens Homo Sacer. We will then build from this theoretical foundation to examine nation-to-nation
negotiations in the U.S., namely between Native American tribal nations and U.S. federal and state governments.
We will approach this complex topic through a variety of texts about specific legal, social, and cultural efforts
made by both federal/state governments and tribal nationsto exercise and resist sovereignty. Indian gaming
will provide one specific site for examining this fraught negotiation, prompting us to ask: Is tribal sovereignty even
attainable? And, in the final sections of the course, we will examine expressions of tribal nationalismsuch as
Miss Indian America, the Miss Navajo pageant, the Shadow Wolves Tracking Unitliterary sovereignty; and the
politics of sovereignty from a transnational or global perspective.

OBJECTIVES

To gain a basic understanding of sovereignty as a political and philosophical concept
To learn about the legislative histories that set tribal nations into a permanent relationship of domestic
dependence
To study allotment history, with particular attention to the politics of gender and sexuality
To examine the limits and possibilities of the reservation system
To investigate different strategies by tribal nations to gain sovereignty and self-determination rights,
including: Indian gaming; literary nationalism; and global indigenous rights movements

COURSE POLICIES

Discussion: This seminar will primarily be discussion-based. I expect consistent and respectful participation by
everyone in the class.

Attendance: I expect you to attend every class meeting, particularly because we only meet once per week. If you
know you will be absent from class, please let me know as soon as possible. And, if you miss a class, you are
responsible for finding out what you missed and what is expected for the next class. Check Blackboard and/or ask
a fellow class member for details. (Not me, please.) Participation is a significant amount of your grade and you
cannot participate if you are not in class. Also, being present in classboth physically and mentallyis crucial to
building a cohesive and collegial community.

Comparative American Studies
CAST 326
Oberlin College
Spring 2011

Cellphones
Off and stored in your bag. I will not tolerate errant rings in classthese are extremely disruptive and
disrespectful.

Laptops
Many of our readings will be in pdf form, so I understand the need for your computer in class. In fact, if you
choose not to print the articles, I encourage you to bring your computer so you have the reading immediately
available. However, use of laptops for anything not related to the class lecture or discussion (random Internet
browsing, etc) will mean losing laptop privileges.

Timeliness: Assignments must be submitted on time in order to receive full credit. I will deduct 1/3 of a grade
for each 24 hours an assignment is late (i.e., from B+ to B). Assignments submitted later than one week past the
original deadline without a written extension will be given credit at my discretion and will generally earn no
greater than a minimum passing grade. Requests for extensions must be submitted by email at least 72 hours
prior to the assignment due date and are generally available only for extenuating circumstances. Late papers may
not receive written comments. No late assignments will be accepted past the end of reading period without an
approved incomplete from the Dean of Studies. Extensions on final projects also require an incomplete. There
are no exceptions to this policy.

Assignment Format: All essay assignments (unless directed otherwise) will be submitted via Blackboard. They
must be posted to the Blackboard site before class time on the day they are due. Do not let this affect your
timeliness for class. On essay due dates, class will still begin promptly at 7 pm. After I make comments and post
your grades, I will inform you via email so you may retrieve your essay annotated with my comments and your
grade. Important: You must upload your essays as .doc files (no Pages, .rtf or .pdf). If your paper is not a .doc
file, it will be counted as late. Finally, it is your responsibility to make sure your essay posts correctly to
Blackboard, not mine. After you attach the file, double-check to be sure you are able to download and open it in
Word.

Essays must be double-spaced and use a standard font type and size (11 or 12 pt.). Include your name, the date, a
title, page numbers, and the honor code. Please be sure to proofread carefully for style and grammar. Use either
MLA or Chicago Manual of Style for formatting in-text citations and endnotes/footnotes/or bibliographies. These
style guides are available in the library or under Resources on our course site. Papers that do not follow proper
formatting instructions may receive a 1/3-grade deduction.

P/NP: If you are taking this course P/NP, you must fulfill all course obligations and complete all assignments in order
to receive credit for the course. Please also let me know at the beginning of the course if you plan to take it P/NP.

Email: I check my email regularly but not obsessively. Do not expect a response from me until at least 24 hours after
your email was sent. If you dont receive a response within 24 hours, then please email me again to be sure I received
the first email.

Honor Code: This course will follow the policies described in the Oberlin College Honor Code and Honor System.
Please include the statement I affirm that I have adhered to the Honor Code in this assignment in all written work. If
you have any questions about academic honesty, citation, or the relationship of the Honor Code to your work in this
course, please let me know.

Students with Disabilities: If you need disability-related accommodations for your work in this course, please let
me know. Support is available through Student Academic Servicesplease contact Jane Boomer, Director of the
Office of Disability Services, for assistance in developing a plan to address your academic needs.

Comparative American Studies
CAST 326
Oberlin College
Spring 2011

ASSIGNMENTS

Participation: This seminar relies on intellectual interchange and active participation by all members of
the class. Class meetings emphasize analysis of assigned readings. In order for the seminar to be
effective, all students must have the reading assignments completed and be prepared for in-depth
discussion. The class requires your thoughtful and continuous participation; therefore, regular
attendance is mandatory. This is a seminar that requires a high level of individual and collective
engagement. 10%

Critical Essays & Discussion: In order to facilitate critical thinking and class discussion, each of you will submit one
critical essay (up to 1500 words) based on the weekly readings. Each essay will analyze the authors argument,
methods, and key points from the text you believe are relevant for seminar discussion. On the day your essay is
due, you will also lead class discussion for 20 minutes. See prompt for more details. 35% (30% for essay, 5% for
leading class discussion)

Research Project: You will choose a final topic for a 9-12-page paper based on your original research. This
assignment is divided into three parts: Writing Group; Prospectus; Final Draft. More details will be provided in
class. 55%


SUMMARY OF GRADES

Participation: 10%
Critical Essay & Discussion: 35%
Research Project in 3 parts 55%:
Reading & Writing Group: 15%
Prospectus: 15%
Final Draft: 25%


SCHEDULE OF READINGS & ASSIGNMENTS

WEEK THURSDAY
1:
Feb 9
Performing
Declarations

Introductions; overview of the course and syllabus

READ:
United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Declaration of Independence

2:
Feb 16
Introduction to
Agamben

READ:
From Giorgio Agamben: Sovereignty & Life:
Ernesto Laclau, "Bare Life or Social Indeterminacy?" (11-22); William E. Connolly, "The Complexities of
Sovereignty" (23-42); Steven DeCaroli, "Boundary Stones: Giorgio Agamben and the Field of Sovereignty"
(43-69); William Rasch, "From Sovereign Ban to Banning Sovereignty" (92-108); Paul Patton, "Agamben
and Foucault on Biopower and Biopolitics" (203-218)

3:
Feb 23
Bare Life

READ:
*Giorgio Agamben, Introduction of Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life
*Part I of Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (1-70)

4: READ:
Comparative American Studies
CAST 326
Oberlin College
Spring 2011

Mar 2
Law: Oliphant &
Cherokee Cases

*Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe et al (1978)
Jill Norgren, The Cherokee Cases: Two Landmark Federal Decisions in the Fight for Sovereignty


5:
Mar 9
Reservations
READ:
*John M. Findlay, An Elusive Institution: The Birth of Indian Reservations in Gold Rush California (13-37)
*John H. Moore, The Enduring Reservations of Oklahoma (92-109)
*Frank W. Porter, Without Reservation: Federal Indian Policy and the Landless Tribes of Washington
(110-135)
6:
Mar 16
Allotment
READ:
*The Dawes Act (1887)
*Kristin Ruppel, selections from Unearthing Indian Land: Living with the Legacies of Allotment
7:
Mar 23
Jurisdiction
READ:
*Sidney Harring, Crow Dogs Case: American Indian Sovereignty, Tribal Law, and United States Law in the
Nineteenth Century (1-56)
*Steve Russell, Making Peace with Crow Dogs Ghost: Racialized Prosecution in Federal Indian Law
Wicazo Sa Review (Spring 2006): 61-76
*Sarah Deer, Decolonizing Rape Law: A Native Feminist Synthesis of Safety and Sovereignty Wicazo Sa
Review (Fall 2009): 149-167

DUE:
Prospectus
8:
Mar 30
Spring Break

9:
Apr 6
Urban Relocation
READ:
*Reyna K. Ramirez, Gathering Together in Hubs: Claiming Home and the Sacred in an Urban Area (58-83)
*David R.M. Beck, Developing a Voice: The Evolution of Self-Determination in an Urban Indian
Community Wicazo Sa Review (Fall 2002): 117-141
*Megan MacDonald, Indigenous Two-Spirit Identity in the Twin Cities Region (150-170)

DUE:
Report from writing group meeting 1
10:
Apr 13
Indian Gaming:
Whos Winning?

READ:
Jessica R. Cattelino, High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty
*Mary Lawlor, Identity in Mashantucket (31-55)

DUE:
Report from writing group meeting 2
11:
Apr 20
National
Performativity

READ:
*Shari Huhndorf, Indigenous Feminism, Performance, and the Gendered Politics of Memory (105-139)
*Wendy Kozol, Miss Indian America: Regulatory Gazes and the Politics of Affiliation Feminist Studies
31.1 (Spring, 2005): 64-94
*Michael A. Elliott, Indian Patriots on Last Stand Hill American Quarterly (2006): 987-1015
SCREEN IN CLASS:
Miss Navajo, dir. Billy Luther

DUE:
Report from writing group meeting 3
12:
Apr 27
Literary
Nationalism and
Sovereignty
READ:
Craig Womack, Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism (1-74)
Gerald Vizenor, The Heirs of Columbus

DUE:
Report from final writing group meeting
13:
May 4
READ:
Craig Womack, Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism (75-310)
Comparative American Studies
CAST 326
Oberlin College
Spring 2011

Literary
Nationalism and
Sovereignty
Vizenor, The Heirs of Columbus, cont.
14:
Transnationalism &
Native America
May 11
READ:
*Reyna K. Ramirez, Empowerment and Identity from the Hub: Indigenous Women from Mexico and the
United States (126-154); and Without Papers: A Transnational Hub on the Rights of Indigenous
Communities (155-170)

Final paper due: May 22, 11 am (no exceptions, no extensions)upload on Blackboard

Comparative American Studies
CAST 326
Oberlin College
Spring 2011

REQUIRED TEXTS
Books available in the Oberlin College bookstore

Calarco, Matthew and Steven DeCarole. Giorgio Agamben: Sovereignty and Life. Stanford, 2007.
Cattelino, Jessica R. High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.
Norgren, The Cherokee Cases: Two Landmark Federal Decisions in the Fight for Sovereignty. University of Oklahoma
Press, 2004
Vizenor, Gerald. Heirs of Columbus (1991)
Womack, Craig. Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism. Minneapolist: University of Minnesota Press,
1999
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF ARTICLES/CHAPTERS
*Articles will be available through email and Blackboard.

The Dawes Act of 1887
Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe et al (1978)
Agamben, Giorgio. Introduction and Part 1 of Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, 1-70.
Beck, David R.M. Developing a Voice: The Evolution of Self-Determination in an Urban Indian Community
Wicazo Sa Review (Fall 2002): 117-141
Deer, Sarah Decolonizing Rape Law: A Native Feminist Synthesis of Safety and Sovereignty Wicazo Sa Review
(Fall 2009): 149-167.
Elliott, Michael A. Indian Patriots on Last Stand Hill American Quarterly (2006): 987-1015.
Findlay, John M. An Elusive Institution: The Birth of Indian Reservations in Gold Rush California. State and
Reservation: New Perspectives on Federal Indian Policy. Ed. George Pierre Castile and Robert L. Bee. Tucson:
The University of Arizona Press, 1992. 13-37.
Harring, Sidney. Crow Dogs Case: American Indian Sovereignty, Tribal Law, and United States Law in the
Nineteenth Century
Huhndorf, Shari. Mapping the Americas: The Transnational Politics of Contemporary Native Culture. Cornell UP, 2009.
Comparative American Studies
CAST 326
Oberlin College
Spring 2011

Kozol, Wendy. Miss Indian America: Regulatory Gazes and the Politics of Affiliation Feminist Studies
31.1 (Spring, 2005): 64-94.
Larson, Sidner. Making Sense of Federal Indian Law Wicazo Sa Review (Spring 2005): 9-21.
Lawlor, Mary. Identity in Mashantucket. Public Native America: Tribal Self-Representations in Museums, Powwows, and
Casinos. Rutgers University Press, 2006. 31-55.
MacDonald, Megan. Indigenous Two-Spirit Identity in the Twin Cities Region. Queer Twin Cities. Ed. Kevin P.
Murphy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
Moore, John H. The Enduring Reservations of Oklahoma. State and Reservation: New Perspectives on Federal Indian
Policy. Ed. George Pierre Castile and Robert L. Bee. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1992. 92-
109.
Porter, Frank W. Without Reservation: Federal Indian Policy and the Landless Tribes of Washington. State and
Reservation: New Perspectives on Federal Indian Policy. Ed. George Pierre Castile and Robert L. Bee. Tucson:
The University of Arizona Press, 1992. 110-135.
Ramirez Reyna K. selections from Native Hubs: Culture, Community, Belonging in the Silicon Valley and Beyond.
Durham: Duke UP, 2007.
Ruppel, Kristin selections from Unearthing Indian Land: Living with the Legacies of Allotment. University of Arizona
Press, 2008.
Russell, Steve. Making Peace with Crow Dogs Ghost: Racialized Prosecution in Federal Indian Law Wicazo Sa
Review (Spring 2006): 61-76.