Individuality Incorporated: Indians and the Multicultural Modern

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Duke University Press, 2004 M02 16 - 340 pages
Spanning the 1870s to the present, Individuality Incorporated demonstrates how crucial a knowledge of Native American-White history is to rethinking key issues in American studies, cultural studies, and the history of subjectivity. Joel Pfister proposes an ingenious critical and historical reinterpretation of constructions of “Indians” and “individuals.” Native Americans have long contemplated the irony that the government used its schools to coerce children from diverse tribes to view themselves first as “Indians”—encoded as the evolutionary problem—and then as “individuals”—defined as the civilized industrial solution. As Luther Standing Bear, Charles Eastman, and Black Elk attest, tribal cultures had their own complex ways of imagining, enhancing, motivating, and performing the self that did not conform to federal blueprints labeled “individuality.” Enlarging the scope of this history of “individuality,” Pfister elaborates the implications of state, corporate, and aesthetic experiments that moved beyond the tactics of an older melting pot hegemony to impose a modern protomulticultural rule on Natives. The argument focuses on the famous Carlisle Indian School; assimilationist novels; Native literature and cultural critique from Zitkala-Sa to Leslie Marmon Silko; Taos and Santa Fe bohemians (Mabel Dodge Luhan, D. H. Lawrence, Mary Austin); multicultural modernisms (Fred Kabotie, Oliver La Farge, John Sloan, D’Arcy McNickle); the Southwestern tourism industry’s development of corporate multiculturalism; the diversity management schemes that John Collier implemented as head of the Indian New Deal; and early formulations of ethnic studies. Pfister’s unique analysis moves from Gilded Age incorporations of individuality to postmodern incorporations of multicultural reworkings of individuality to unpack what is at stake in producing subjectivity in World America.

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Carlisle as Individualizing Factory Making Indians Individuals Workers
Assimilation as Individualizing
Treason to the Tribe
Complexity Critical Thinking and Performance at Carlisle
Class Race Warfare
Carlisle Consumer Culture and Loaded Cultural Relativism 19041918
Education for What?
Discourses of Native Cultural Subjectivity
Indians in the Therapeutic and Modernist Marketplace
Luhan Lawrence Austin and the Fantasy of Individualized Liberation in Tribal Scenes
The Politics of Lawrences Psychological Critique of American Individualizing
Radical Polemicist against Individualizing
Collier as Social Theorist of Indians
Reorganizing Indians
La Forges and McNickles Fictions
Taos Collier and the Multicultural Containment of Critique

Faking Individual and Indian
Multicultural Modernity Incorporated
Garland and the Modernizing of Digestion Management
Environmental Soulful and Literary Indians
A Proposal to Reopen Carlisle

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Page 17 - Geertz stated many years ago that "the Western conception of the person as a bounded, unique, more or less integrated motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic center of awareness, emotion, judgment, and action organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastively both against other such wholes and against a social and natural background...
Page 5 - It is only as a man puts off all foreign support and stands alone that I see him to be strong and to prevail.
Page 5 - Then again, do not tell me, as a good man did to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor ? I tell thee thou foolish philanthropist that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the Cent I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong.

About the author (2004)

Joel Pfister is Professor of American Studies and English at Wesleyan University. He is a coeditor of Inventing the Psychological: Toward a Cultural History of Emotional Life in America and the author of Staging Depth: Eugene O'Neill and the Politics of Psychological Discourse and The Production of Personal Life: Class, Gender, and the Psychological in Hawthorne's Fiction.

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