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The Transatlantic Indian, 1776-1930$
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Kate Flint

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691203188

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691203188.001.0001

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Indians and the Politics of Gender

Indians and the Politics of Gender

Chapter:
(p.167) Chapter Seven Indians and the Politics of Gender
Source:
The Transatlantic Indian, 1776-1930
Author(s):

Kate Flint

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691203188.003.0007

This chapter reflects on issues of gender in relation to native peoples—in commentaries by travelers and sportsmen and, more particularly, in the use of Indian themes to comment on contemporary domestic gender debates, as in Elizabeth Gaskell's “Lois the Witch” and Gilbert Parker's 1894 novel The Translation of a Savage, which may be read as a reworking of the Pocahontas story. When it came to commenting on gender in relation to Native Americans, the usual strategy, whether consciously invoked or silently underpinning the representations, was to read Indian society in relation to the customary standards of white British, or on occasion Anglo-American, culture. There is little to surprise here. Such assumptions of cultural and racial normativity have been extensively commented upon in discussions of ethnography, travel writing, and representation. As well as revelatory of dominant social attitudes, and illustrative of how shared assumptions can be used to consolidate bonds between authors and readers at both national and transnational levels, such writing illustrates the enabling role of the socially familiar when it comes to making vivid something strange.

Keywords:   gender, Elizabeth Gaskell, Lois the Witch, Gilbert Parker, Pocahontas, Native Americans, Indian society, British culture, Anglo-American culture, travel writing

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