The Indian’s White Man: Indigenous Knowledge, Mutual Understanding, and the Politics of Indigenous Reason

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2022-03-17
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The University of Chicago Press for The Wenner‐Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.
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World Languages and Cultures
Abstract
This article uses three Ho-Chunk discussions of “whiteness” (from first contact to the mid-twentieth century) to outline an approach to Indigenous knowledge that challenges approaches that depict other cultures as constituting incommensurable worlds. Arguing that the idea of ontological alterity leads to a form of ethnographic entrapment, it instead theorizes Indigenous knowledge production as a process rooted in empirical observation, moral evaluation, and critical engagement within a common but contested world. The Ho-Chunk examples illustrate a long-term, collective process of inquiry that produced an understanding of settler whiteness emphasizing its relationship to practices of dispossession and governance. They also show events in which such knowledge was used by Ho-Chunk people in efforts to compel white interlocutors to self-awareness and more reasonable forms of behavior.
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This article is published as Arndt, G. The Indian’s White ManIndigenous Knowledge, Mutual Understanding, andthe Politics of Indigenous Reason. Current Anthropology; 63(1); February 2022. https://doi.org/10.1086/719380. Posted with permission.
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