In Indigenous Cities Laura M. Furlan demonstrates that stories of the urban experience are essential to an understanding of modern Indigeneity. She situates Native identity among theories of diaspora, cosmopolitanism, and transnationalism by examining urban narratives—such as those written by Sherman Alexie, Janet Campbell Hale, Louise Erdrich, and Susan Power—along with the work of filmmakers and artists. In these stories Native peoples navigate new surroundings, find and reformulate community, and maintain and redefine Indian identity in the postrelocation era. These narratives illuminate the changing relationship between urban Indigenous peoples and their tribal nations and territories and the ways in which new cosmopolitan bonds both reshape and are interpreted by tribal identities.
Though the majority of American Indigenous populations do not reside on reservations, these spaces regularly define discussions and literature about Native citizenship and identity. Meanwhile, conversations about the shift to urban settings often focus on elements of dispossession, subjectivity, and assimilation. Furlan takes a critical look at Indigenous fiction from the last three decades to present a new way of looking at urban experiences, one that explains mobility and relocation as a form of resistance. In these stories Indian bodies are not bound by state-imposed borders or confined to Indian Country as it is traditionally conceived. Furlan demonstrates that cities have always been Indian land and Indigenous peoples have always been cosmopolitan and urban.
About the Author
Laura M. Furlan is an associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
"In her lucid exploration of the historical contexts and central tropes of contemporary urban Indian fiction, Furlan . . . argues for a reconception of Indigenous Americans’ identities and their need and ability to reconfigure concepts such as tribe, community, relationship to “the land,” and spirituality."—M. F. McClure, Choice
"Indigenous Cities makes an important contribution to discussions around what it means to be Indian in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The monograph challenges us to think more carefully about the importance awarded to the reservation and how stereotypes work to deny Indigenous modernity and mobility. Indigenous Cities will be an invaluable and accessible resource for students of American Indian literature, culture, and history. Furlan's theorisations of diaspora, transnationalism, gender, place, and history in urban Indian writing establish that she should be seen as an exciting voice in American Indian Studies."—Andi Bawden, Transmotion
"Laura Furlan’s study of urban Indian literature is a welcome addition to a growing body of research on urban Indian activism, creativity, and cosmopolitanism."—Lindsey Claire Smith, Great Plains Quarterly
"Through a nimble blending of history and fiction, Furlan shows how contemporary Indigenous identities are shaped by urban spaces and policies that support frameworks for systemic marginalization and injustice, even as these same places generate cosmopolitan mobility and a sense of transnationalism that fosters meaningful paths to renewal through activism and the re-creation of tribal identities."—Chad Wriglesworth, Oregon Historical Society
"[Indigenous Cities] is an irreplaceable study of the last fifty years of urban Native experience and literature, synthesizing a number of the most fruitful approaches to Native American literature while exploring four important writers."—James Ruppert, MELUS
"By demonstrating how Native writers build the understanding that all spaces are Native spaces, Furlan secures the city as Indigenous land as much as the reservation, reminding us that Native peoples have always been cosmopolitan."—Fernanda Vieira, Native American and Indigenous Studies
"Highlighting her years of experience as a research and scholar, Indigenous Cities is a must-have for anyone interested in current scholarship that centers on Indigenous literature, history, and decolonizing methodologies."—Kara Wilson, Journal of American Ethnic History
“A groundbreaking study of the literary representation of Native peoples as complex, cosmopolitan entities. This ambitious project is a vitally important book that reconceptualizes how we think about the relationship between land and nationhood. I know of no book like it.”—Dean Rader, author of Engaged Resistance: American Indian Art, Literature, and Film from Alcatraz to the NMAI
“A welcome rejoinder to scholarship that continues to marginalize the urban and the intertribal, a recognition that, like so many Native lives, Native American literatures have been shaped by Indian relocation and by generations of Indians reclaiming—and remaking—city spaces as Indigenous.”—Chadwick Allen, author of Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies