White space: hegemonic representations of American Indians

Rutherford, J. (2017) White space: hegemonic representations of American Indians. M.A. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Abstract

This thesis argues that American Indian stereotypes within American social and cultural space serve to maintain hegemony over America’s Indigenous populace. Designations of the ‘Noble Savage’ and its derivatives, as a result of cultural appropriation, continue to misrepresent and perpetuate ideals of the American Indian ‘other’. Furthermore, by subjugating aspects of Indian-ness to white cultural identity, offers a narrative that reinforces cultural hegemony.

This thesis extends Antonio Gramsci’s concept of cultural hegemony as a theoretical framework to analyse how cultural appropriation seeks to become validated within public discourse. This thesis will present three distinct case studies representative of appropriated American Indian cultural images and artefacts naturalised as aspects of white American culture.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s 2015 film The Revenant, outlines the centrality of the American frontier as hegemonic narrative in the American consciousness, and augments American Indian culture to white culture; the Washington R*dskins sporting mascot, extends the discussion of appropriation through issues of representation and ownership, framed by hegemonic discourse of strong white masculinity; and the ‘Hipster Headdress’ offers a gender contrast to previous case studies through a feminine narrative which tests issues of objectification and sexualisation in the maintenance of stereotypical depictions of American Indians. By presenting American Indian representation via cultural appropriation, it is possible to argue the importance of cultural hegemony in describing and sanctioning this process, through ideological depictions of Indian-ness and the space they inhabit.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: E History America
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Miss Rosemary Cox
Date Deposited: 15 May 2018 12:58
Last Modified: 26 May 2018 17:08
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/17319

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00