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Native American authors in the first half of the nineteenth century—the dawn of the Anthropocene in some accounts—were witness to the rapid expansion of settler-colonialism powered by new ideologies of energy and fueled by fossil capitalism. These authors, though, resisted extractive metaphors for energy and fuel, offering more organic and intimate visions of energy instead. Using energy humanities theories developed by Warren Cariou (Métis) and Bob Johnson, among others, this article will analyze Mary Jemison’s (Seneca) autobiography; Jane Johnston Schoolcraft’s (Ojibwe) poem, “On the Doric Rock, Lake Superior”; and John Rollin Ridge’s (Cherokee) novel, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta. These works show how Native American authors defined energy as cyclical and intimate in contrast to the growing settler society’s vision of linear, unending extraction. This article argues that nineteenth-century Native American Anglophone literatures expand the scope of the energy humanities by describing energy intimacy while also extending the histories of Indigenous resistance to settler energy imaginaries. Nineteenth-century Native American literatures can make important contributions to the scope of the energy humanities and need to be integrated into the field to grasp the full scale of current environmental crises.
Environmental Humanities – Duke University Press
Published: Nov 1, 2021
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