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Sovereign erotic

sovereign erotic is used of historical, tribally-specific knowledge to heal colonial sexual violence. The term was coined by scholar, artist, and activist Qwo-Li Driskill ( Cherokee ) in the essay Stolen from our Bodies: First Nations Two-Spirits / Queers and the Journey to a Sovereign Erotic . [1]

Colonization of native sexualities

An understanding of this term requires a familiarity with the history of how indigenous peoples have been colonized. Driskill points towards how sexual assault and sexism were new to most indigenous communities. [1] Wilma Mankiller writes of the introduction of sexism to the Cherokee Nation that “Europeans brought with them the view that men were the absolute head of household, and women were to be submissive to them.” [2] Andrea Smithinvestigates how sexual violence was not merely a tragic accidental introduction to indigenous communities, but a tool used as a key element of colonialism. [3]Colonial powers violently regulated indigenous women’s sexuality through forced and coerced sterilization . [4]

Sexual and gender identities, like sexualized bodies, have also been subject to colonial logics. Colonialism and Christianity brought the idea that queer sexual practices and non-binary gender identities are sinful. More, even within White queer communities, the identities of queer people of color colonized by White conceptions of identity. For example, Gloria Anzaldúa writes:

“Lesbian” comes from a Euro-Anglo American mold and “homosexual” from a deviant, diseased mold shaped by certain psychological theories. We non-Euro-Anglo Americans are supposed to live up to those theories. A mestiza colored queer person is bodily shoved by both the heterosexual world and by white gays into the “lesbian” or “homosexual” mold whether he / she fits or not. The persona is situada dentro de la idea en vez del reves. (The person is set inside the idea, instead of the other way around). [5]

Sovereign erotic as a healing practice

According to Driskill:

When I speak of a Sovereign Erotic, I’m speaking of an erotic wholeness and / or healing from the historical trauma that First Nations people continue to survive, rooted within the histories, traditions, and resistance of their nations. [1]

This term draws from Audre Lorde’s assertion that “Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we vote all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects of their relative meaning in our lives.” [6] Driskill also describes a sovereign erotic as “a return to and / or continuance of the complex realities of gender and sexuality that are ever-present in both the human and more-than-human world, but erased and hidden by colonial cultures . ” [1]

Sovereign erotic as an analytical tool

The term Was Originally used to analyze two-spirit literature by Driskill, Chrystos ( Menominee ), and Craig Womack ( Creek – Cherokee ). [1] The title of Mark Rifkin’s third monograph – The Erotics of Sovereignty: Queer Native Writing in the Era of Self-Determination – a reference to Driskill’s theory. [7]

Lisa Tatonetti has described the sovereign erotic as a “landmark theory.” [8] She uses it to analyze the work of Sherman Alexie ( Spokane – Heart of Alene ), [9] Carole LaFavor , [10] and Jorge Manzano. [11]

June Scudeler ( Métis ) has used the concept to analyze the work of Kent Monkman ( Swampy Cree ) [12] and Gregory Scofield. [13]

See also

  • Gender roles among the indigenous peoples of North America
  • Native American feminism
  • Sexual victimization of Native Americans
  • Missing and murdered Indigenous women
  • Sterilization of Native American women


  1. ^ Jump up to:e Driskill, Qwo-Li (2004). “Stolen From Our Bodies: First Nations Two-Spirits / Queers and the Journey to a Sovereign Erotic”. Studies in American Indian Literatures . 16 (2): 50-64. doi : 10.1353 / ai.2004.0020 .
  2. Jump up^ Mankiller, Wilma ; Wallis, Michael (2000). Mankiller: St. Martin’s Griffin ed. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin. p. 20. ISBN  0312206623 .
  3. Jump up^ Smith, Andrea (2005). Conquest: sexual violence and American Indian genocide . Cambridge, MA: South End Press. ISBN  0896087441 .
  4. Jump up^ “Investigation of Allegations Concerning Indian Health Service” (PDF) . Government Accountability Office . November 4, 1976 . Retrieved May 29,2015 .
  5. Jump up^ Anzaldúa, Gloria (1991). “To (o) queer the writer: loca, escritora y chicana”. In Warland, Betsy. InVersions: writing by dykes, queers & lesbians . Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers. p. 252. ISBN  0889740364 .
  6. Jump up^ Lorde, Audre (2007). Sister outsider: essays and speeches (Reprint ed.). Berkeley, Calif .: Crossing Press. p. 57. ISBN  9781580911863 .
  7. Jump up^ Tatonetti, Lisa (2014). “The Erotics of Sovereignty: Queer Native Writing in the Era of Self-Determination by Mark Rifkin”. The American Indian Quarterly38 (1): 119. doi : 10.1353 / aiq.2014.0010 .
  8. Jump up^ Tatonetti, Lisa (2014). “The Erotics of Sovereignty: Queer Native Writing in the Era of Self-Determination by Mark Rifkin”. The American Indian Quarterly38 (1): 120. doi : 10.1353 / aiq.2014.0010 .
  9. Jump up^ Tatonetti, Lisa (2007). “Sex and Salmon: Queer Identities in Alexie Sherman’s The toughest Indian in the World”. Studies in American Fiction . 35 (2): 201-219. doi : 10.1353 / saf.2007.0004 .
  10. Jump up^ Tatonetti, Lisa (2 June 2016). “Detecting Two-Spirit erotics: The fiction of Carole laFavor”. Journal of Lesbian Studies . 20 (3-4): 372-387. doi :10.1080 / 10894160.2016.1144426 .
  11. Jump up^ Tatonetti, Lisa (2010). “Visible sexualities or invisible nations: Forced to Choose in Big Eden, Johnny Greyeyes, and The Business of Fancydancing”. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies . 16 (1-2): 157-181. doi :10.1215 / 10642684-2009-017 .
  12. Jump up^ Scudeler, June (2015). ” ‘ Indians on Top’: Kent Monkman ‘s Sovereign Erotics”. American Indian Culture and Research Journal . 39 (4): 19-32. doi :10.17953 / aicrj.39.4.scudeler .
  13. Jump up^ Scudeler, Jane (January 1, 2006). ” ” The Song I am Singing “: Gregory Scofield’s Interweavings of Métis, Gay and Jewish Selfhoods” . Studies in Canadian Literature / Studies in Canadian Literature . 31 (1). ISSN  1718-7850 . Retrieved 18 August 2016 .

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