Still Waiting for the “Post” to Arrive: Elizabeth Cook-Lynn and the Imponderables of American Indian Postcoloniality

Jodi Byrd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In her 1996 collection, Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn issues a call for American Indian studies to take up a larger body of Third World criticism. Her goal was to reframe American Indian literary and critical productions within the anticolonial intellectual traditions of the global South and push toward the development of resistance literatures that could substantively critique the rise of a cosmopolitan Indianness that circulates against the specificity of tribe, sovereignty, and nation. She followed this call with subsequent engagements with and between American Indian studies and postcolonial theory, culminating in the publication of A Separate Country: Postcoloniality and American Indian Nations in 2012. Drawing upon a diverse body of work from the global South, Cook-Lynn provides an intellectual genealogy that prioritizes sovereignty and Native nations. At the same time, she confronts academic knowledge production that continues to sublimate and deny the continued reality of the colonization of American Indian nations. This essay considers Cook-Lynn's engagements with and against postcolonial theory to discuss the significance of her intellectual work critiquing colonialism, cosmopolitanism, and academic knowledge production within the field of American Indian and Indigenous studies. Cook-Lynn's work, this article suggests, provides useful ways to disentangle how Indigenous studies is often collapsed into settler colonial studies and offers important insights into the stakes about voices and authority within anticolonial scholarship.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-89
JournalWicazo Sa Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • settler colonialism
  • indigenous peoples
  • Native Americans
  • postcolonialism
  • colonialism
  • critical theory
  • American colonialism
  • decolonization
  • subalterns
  • genocide


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