Appropriating indigeneity from the couch: Curtis Nash, Cultural Appropriation, Postcolonial Fetishism, and Indigenous-Settler Relations in Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, MA Dissertation, University of Guelph, 2016
Abstract: Few studies have examined the cultural appropriation of North American Indigeneity in video games. This thesis therefore investigates whether such appropriations occur in one of the most popular video games made, World of Warcraft, and considers how such appropriations might affect Indigenous-Settler relations. I undertook a discourse analysis of 85 forum discussions in which 682 players discussed the perceived similarities between the ‘races’ in Warcraft and real world ethnocultural groups. An open-ended online survey was also used, which received 29 responses. The results revealed that players believe, first, that Warcraft engages in the appropriation of Indigeneity and, second, that the Tauren most appropriate elements of Indigeneity. By using postcolonial fetishism, I theorize that the Tauren might serve as a fetish ‘object’ for those Settlers who play World of Warcraft, which transforms the Indigenous ‘Other’ into a fixated form that might mask its more foreboding revelations and thereby stabilizes Indigenous-Settler relations.
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