Simulating dominance: How procedural rhetoric enforces a false Native nomos in Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
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In Bethesda Softworks's Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, it is possible to reveal the dominant ideologies working beneath its narrative elements and graphical representation of race, clothing, and environment. Using Susan C. Jarratt's Sophistic logos and nomos, Ian Bogost's "procedural rhetoric," and Gerald Vizenor's "manifest manners" or "simulations of dominance," my thesis analyzes these dominant ideologies and reveals the marginalization of the indigenous "other" as post-structural fabrications, which Philip J. Deloria calls "Indianness." Indianness, invented and mutable, is portrayed mainly through the creation of a fictional indigenous group: the "Ashlanders." Overall, I argue that the creation of the Ashlanders, the narrative elements attached to them, and how they are represented through procedures or code, perpetuates a Euro-American commodification, marginalization, and erasure of a Native American cultural identity as an act of cultural violence.