Introduction: Indigeneity's Difference: Methodology and the Structures of Sovereignty

Jodi Byrd

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This forum is conceived as a broad consideration of the methodological and theoretical challenges sovereignty presents to nineteenth and twentieth century studies, especially when paired with the concept of indigeneity. Participants include Frederick Hoxie, Alyosha Goldstein, and Manu Vimalassery, and each of the scholars draw upon their own research and expertise in history, literature, American Indian, postcolonial and political studies to offer insights into how sovereignty functions as a political, legal, cultural, and governmental category of analysis across time. How has sovereignty functioned as a process of differentiation at the site of racialization, nationalization, and territorialization? What are some of the consequences of pinning indigenous critiques of colonialism to political sovereignty and how did sovereignty become such an important site of intervention in nineteenth century studies of empire? Ranging from late medieval European debates over sovereignty to twentieth-century American Indian activism that prioritized sovereignty and self-determination as constitutive elements of resistance, these essays reflect on the different sovereignty has made within histories of colonialism and imperialism while also pointing to possible new formations and new modes of inquiry that push beyond the bio- and geopolitics of conquest.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137–142
JournalJ19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • sovereignty
  • indigeneity
  • indigenous peoples
  • governmentality
  • American Indians
  • counter-sovereignty
  • colonialism
  • territoriality


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