Re-Mapping the Trauma Paradigm: The Politics of Native American Grief in Louise Erdrich’s “Shamengwa”

Chapter

Abstract

Martínez-Falquina offers a much-needed re-mapping of the trauma paradigm in relation to Native American literary studies. Starting from an analysis of Louise Erdrich’s 2002 short story “Shamengwa,” the chapter theorizes Native American grief—with a focus on American Indian Historical Trauma—attending to its fundamental political implications. The relevance of its conclusions—the need to understand suffering and healing as both individual and communal processes; the vindication of an idiosyncratic understanding of place and time; the affirmation of post-traumatic growth in spite of loss; and the combination of differential culture-specific elements with an attention to hybridity—contribute to the dismantling of monolithic views of Native American cultures and to the revision of Western forms of knowledge.

Keywords

Louise Erdrich  Native American literature Postcolonial trauma theory American Indian historical trauma The politics of grief 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The research carried out for the writing of this chapter is part of a project financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the European Regional Development Fund, code FFI2015-65775-P (MINECO / FEDER, UE). The author is also thankful for the support of the Government of Aragón (code H05) and of the university of Zaragoza (code JIuZ-2014-HuM-02).

Bibliographical References

  1. Adichie, Chimamanda. 2009. “The Danger of a Single Story.” Ted Talks, https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?language=es. Accessed 5 April 2016.
  2. Andersen, Chris. 2009. “Critical Indigenous Studies: From Difference to Density.” Cultural Studies Review 15 (2): 80–100.Google Scholar
  3. Beidler, Peter G. 2003. “‘In the Old Language’: A Glossary of Ojibwe Words, Phrases, and Sentences in Louise Erdrich’s Novels.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 27 (3): 53–70.Google Scholar
  4. Blaeser, Kimberly. 1998. “Like ‘Reeds through the Ribs of a Basket’: Native Women Weaving Stories.” In Other Sisterhoods: Literary Theory and U.S. Women of Color, edited by Sandra Stanley, 265–76. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bloom, Sandra. 2010. “Bridging the Black Hole of Trauma: The Evolutionary Significance of the Arts.” Psychotherapy and Politics International 8 (3): 198–212.Google Scholar
  6. Borzaga, Michela. 2012. “Trauma in the Postcolony: Towards a New Theoretical Approach.” In Trauma, Memory and Narrative in the Contemporary South African Novel, edited by Ewald Mengel and Michela Borzaga, 65–91. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  7. Brave Heart, Maria Yellow Horse. 1998. “The Return to the Sacred Path: Healing the Historical Trauma and Historical Unresolved Grief Response among the Lakota through a Psychoeducational Group Intervention.” Smith College Studies in Social Work 68 (3): 287–305.Google Scholar
  8. Brave Heart, Maria Yellow Horse and Lemyra M. DeBruyn. 1998. “The American Indian Holocaust: Healing Historical Unresolved Grief.” American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research 8 (2): 56–78.Google Scholar
  9. Buell, Lawrence. 2005. The Future of Environmental Criticism: Environmental Crisis and Literary Imagination. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  10. Butler, Judith. 2004. “Violence, Mourning, Politics.” In Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, 19–49. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  11. Collins, Jo. 2011. “The Ethics and Aesthetics of Representing Trauma: The Textual Politics of Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 47 (1): 5–17.Google Scholar
  12. Craps, Stef. 2012. Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  13. Daniel Heath Justice. 2011. “Currents of Trans/national Criticism in Indigenous Literary Studies.” American Indian Quarterly 35 (3): 334–352.Google Scholar
  14. Duran, Bonnie, Eduardo Duran and Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart. 1998. “Native Americans and the Trauma of History.” In Studying Native America: Problems and Prospects, edited by Russell Thornton, 60–76. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  15. Erdrich, Louise. 1988. Tracks. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  16. ———. 1993. Love Medicine. London: Flamingo.Google Scholar
  17. ———. 1996. Tales of Burning Love. London: Flamingo.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 1998. The Antelope Wife. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2001. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 2008. The Plague of Doves. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 2009. The Red Convertible: Selected and New Stories, 1978–2008. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 2012. The Round House. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  23. Gone, Joseph P. 2014. “Reconsidering American Indian Historical Trauma: Lessons from an Early Gros Ventre War Narrative.” Transcultural Psychiatry 51 (3): 387–406.Google Scholar
  24. Granek, Leeat. 2014. “Mourning Sickness: The Politicizations of Grief.” Review of General Psychology 18 (2): 61–68.Google Scholar
  25. Harrison, Summer. 2011. “Sea Level: An Interview with Linda Hogan.” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 18 (1): 161–177.Google Scholar
  26. Henry, Gordon. 2009. “Allegories of Engagement: Stories/Theories—A Few Remarks.” In Stories Through Theories/Theories Through Stories: North American Indian Writing, Storytelling, and Critique, edited by Gordon Henry, Nieves Pascual Soler and Silvia Martínez-Falquina, 1–24. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Henry, Gordon, Nieves Pascual Soler and Silvia Martínez-Falquina. 2009. Stories Through Theories/Theories Through Stories: North American Indian Writing, Storytelling, and Critique. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Herrero, Dolores and Sonia Baelo-Allué. 2011. “Introduction.” The Splintered Glass: Facets of Trauma in the Post-Colony and Beyond, edited by Dolores Herrero and Sonia Baelo-Allué, ix–xxvi. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  29. Johnson, Kelli Lyon. 2007. “Writing Deeper Maps: Mapmaking, Local Indigenous Knowledges, and Literary Nationalism in Native Women’s Writing.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 19 (4): 103–120.Google Scholar
  30. Kidwell, Clara Sue. 2009. “American Indian Studies: Intellectual Navel Gazing or Academic Discipline?”. American Indian Quarterly 33 (1): 1–17.Google Scholar
  31. Lawson, Erika. 2014. “Disenfranchised Grief and Social Inequality: Bereaved African Canadians and Oppositional Narratives about the Violent Death of Friends and Family Members.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 37 (11): 2092–2109.Google Scholar
  32. Lemberg, Jennifer. 2006. “Transmitted Trauma and ‘Absent Memory’ in James Welch’s The Death of Jim Loney.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 18 (3): 67–81.Google Scholar
  33. Lyons, Scott Richard. 2011. “Actually Existing Indian Nations: Modernity, Diversity, and the Future of Native American Studies.” American Indian Quarterly 35 (3): 295–312.Google Scholar
  34. Martínez-Falquina, Silvia. 2009. “The(st)ories of Ceremonial Relation: Native Narratives and the Ethics of Reading.” In Stories Through Theories/Theories Through Stories: North American Indian Writing, Storytelling, and Critique, edited by Gordon Henry, Nieves Pascual Soler and Silvia Martínez-Falquina, 191–208. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.Google Scholar
  35. ———. 2015. “Postcolonial Trauma Theory in the Contact Zone: The Strategic Representation of Grief in Edwidge Danticat’s Claire of the Sea Light. Humanities (Special Issue: Decolonizing Trauma Studies: Trauma and Postcolonialism) 4 (4): 834–860. doi: 10.3390/h4040834.
  36. Massey, Doreen. 2005. For Space. Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  37. Neimeyer, Robert A., Dennis Klass and Michael Robert Dennis. 2014. “A Social Constructionist Account of Grief: Loss and the Narration of Meaning.” Death Studies 38 (8): 485–498.Google Scholar
  38. van Styvendale, Nancy. 2008. “The Trans/historicity of Trauma in Jeannette Armstrong’s Slash and Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer.” Studies in the Novel 40 (1–2): 203–223.Google Scholar
  39. Visser, Irene. 2011. “Trauma Theory and Postcolonial Literary Studies.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 47 (3): 270–282. doi:  10.1080/17449855.
  40. ———. 2014a. “Trauma and Power in Postcolonial Literary Studies.” In Contemporary Approaches in Literary Trauma Theory, edited by Michelle Balaev, 106–130. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  41. ———. 2014b. “Trauma Theory: Global Aspirations and Local Emendations.” In The Local and Global in Postcolonial Literature, edited by P. Punyashree, 40–57. New Delhi: Authorspress.Google Scholar
  42. ———. 2015. “Decolonizing Trauma Theory: Retrospects and Prospects.” Humanities 4: 250–265. doi:  10.3390/h4020250.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain

Personalised recommendations