Representing indigenous peoples while being subaltern settler: James Boucher, Representations of the Amerindian in French Literature and the Post-Imperialist Literature of Quebec, PhD Dissertation, University of Iowa, 2016
Abstract: My research traces the evolution of the French vision of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas by establishing a genealogy of mythic paradigms which frame how French and Quebecois authors understand the Amerindian from 1534 to present. Myth informs French visions of the Amerindian from the earliest periods of contact until the present day. My research reveals the existence of a mythic representational genealogy in the history of French (and Quebecois) letters. Through the written word, reiterations of mythologies of the Native lead to the creation of a crystallized French cultural imaginary of the Amerindian which circumscribes possibilities for reciprocal understandings between French (European) and Native peoples. The Noble and Ignoble Savage, the Ecological Savage (which I also refer to as the nexus of Nature and Native), the Vanishing Indian, and Going Native are the mythologies and narrative technologies that have mediated (and continue to mediate) French thinking about the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Not only have these mythic paradigms determined literary representation, but they have also inordinately influenced the articulation of scientific truth about the Amerindian and the concretization of Native ontological difference from a Eurocentric perspective. The inextricable link between representation and praxis, confirmed by my insights into the mythic origins of scientific discourses (Buffon, Durkheim, Lévi-Strauss), cannot be underemphasized.
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