Playing Victim: On Settler Adoption Fantasies, Part V

Colonialism is a violent, non-consensual process, and even the most sheltered of Settler Adoption Fantasy narratives must eventually include that violence in order to maintain some veneer of realism. Since the Settler Adoption story is completely concerned with coddling colonialist thought and assuring the colonizers that their actions are correct and that they are the true heirs of indigenous lands and culture, this presents a narrative hurdle. How that hurdle is handled in fiction says much about the glamorization of group trauma and ‘victimhood’, and the conflation of personal grievance with systemic oppression that infuses Western politics.

CN: genocide, anti-indigenous racism

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Resource Extraction: On Settler Adoption Fantasies, Part IV

In my last post, I described how the indigenous characters in the Settler Adoption Fantasy primarily exist as props for the non-indigenous character’s self-discovery or coming of age, and to continually affirm how special the main character is.  As author Beverly Slapin observes: “If your protagonist is a white boy, make sure that your Indian character exists in order to teach him all about hunting, honor, dignity, loyalty, decency, and the necessity of washing up before dinner.”

But it isn’t really all about the protagonist’s personal growth. It’s about claiming a right to indigenous cultural, spiritual, and scientific knowledge, as well as staking a claim to indigenous homelands.

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Eat, Pray, Colonize: On Settler Adoption Fantasies, Part III

In my last post, I described how the Settler Adoption Fantasy centers the protagonist and affirms their status as special and attractive. One of the reasons the protagonist is centered is that is that time with indigenous people is framed as a mechanism for the character’s personal growth; even any political awakenings tend to be personal and specific, lest the character stray from reenforcing colonial norms.

But there is a second, more symbolic undercurrent. Not only are the indigenous people mere static props, but by leveraging an indigenous culture as the backdrop for a coming-of-age plotline, the colonizers’ culture is coded as ‘adult’, sophisticated, ‘civilized’ and modern, where the indigenous culture is framed as childlike, simple, and backwards. It pits tradition against an individualistic idea of ‘progress’, where indigenous people are just another resource to help the protagonist be all they can be.

CN: anti-indigenous racism, genocide

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The Princess and the Sex Pest: On Settler Adoption Fantasies, Part II

One of the central features of the Settler Adoption Fantasy is that the non-indigenous protagonist becomes the center of attention. While some of this is a normal consequence of following a viewpoint character– even those of us raised in collectivist societies prioritize our personal viewpoints to some degree, and all of us have our own set of cultural biases— the problem occurs when the external narrative validates the protagonist’s status as special.

CN: genocide, anti-indigenous racism, misogyny, sexual harassment, rape

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Playing Dress-Up: On Settler Adoption Fantasies, Part I

The most visually obvious and pervasive piece of the Settler Adoption Fantasy is ‘playing Indian’, where non-indigenous people dress up as stereotypical representations of Native Americans (or other indigenous peoples), for fancy-dress parties, Halloween, or just because. The fact that people double down in defending these manufactured representations even when asked to stop indicates that the costume is an integral part of the much deeper and disturbing narrative I defined in my last post. This post is a dive into identity, costume, and when culture is conflated with personal taste.

CN: genocide, anti-indigenous racism

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