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Negotiating History and Culture

Transculturation in Contemporary Native American Fiction

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Karsten Fitz

Native American cultures have always succeeded to varying degrees in negotiating a balance between their tribal cultural heritage and the ‘dominant culture.’ In the present study, the meeting between these cultures is not interpreted as a clash, but as a cultural encounter in a contact zone. The concept of transculturation serves as a theoretical model to analyze how history and culture are fictionally constructed in contemporary American Indian literature. Developing a dynamic, dialogic, and reciprocal relationship between their native worldviews and literary techniques, on the one hand, and those of the larger society, on the other, the writers examined in this study – Anna Lee Walters, Diane Glancy, James Welch, Linda Hogan, Thomas King, and Gerald Vizenor – stress the processual nature of culture. These writers demonstrate that transculturation functions as a major strategy of survival for Native Americans in the past and in the present.
The Author: Karsten Fitz is Assistant Professor at the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Regensburg. He earned his M.A. at the University of Hannover, and has been awarded a doctoral fellowship by the Evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst. Fitz studied at the Universiy of Washington, Seattle (1990-91) and did research at the American Indian Studies Center of the University of California, Los Angeles. He has published on contemporary Native American Literature.