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Interior landscapes: techniques for depicting the nuances of interracial relationships

Sharfeddin, H (2016) Interior landscapes: techniques for depicting the nuances of interracial relationships. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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Abstract

This research explores techniques for depicting interracial relationships, and their accomanying racial and cultural tensions, in fiction with an emphasis on Native American literature. This includes an examination of assuming other ethnicities through character development, and the line between appropriating racial identity and demonstrating empathy for characters regardless of races. This research specifically addresses techniques for illustrating the post-Civil Rights tensions between Euroamericans and Native Americans within the Interior West. As a non-Native American author native to the American West, I also identify the obstacles and strategies for including interracial relationships within my own work, a novel titled A Delicate Divide, which is based on a historic event: The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes’ water compact proposal that threatens to strip land owner —primarily white—of their water rights within reservation borders. This research discusses Cosmopolitan and Nationalist arguments in favor and against non-Native merican depiction of Indians1 in fiction, and traces the progression of Euroamerican characterization within Native American fiction of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Through its examination of this aspect of racial tension, this research illustrates the arc of sentiment toward the colonizing race from early in the twentieth century, through the Civil Rights Movement and Wounded Knee II in 1973 (a significant event in Indian history), and into contemporary literature. An important outcome of this research has been my own personal understanding of the methods used to create fictional characters with varying viewpoints on race, including extreme racism, without making the overall nature of the work racist. I examine authors whose work deals heavily in themes of racial identity, racism, and cultural tensions between the colonizing race and the oppressed races. These authors also clearly illuminate the hardships of race relations from each of their characters’ perspectives. This paper discusses my approach to interracial fiction through the use of a third-race or “outsider” perspective to tease out racial stereotypes and cultural differences; the concept of imperative racism as a way in which characters overcome racism; and the use of self-directed racism as a technique for dispelling racial biases. Lastly, I highlight the predominant depiction of reservation life in literature as that of addiction, abuse, and poverty, with methods for updating depictions to a modern industry- and education-focused community, which is present on many of today’s reservations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

Thesis supervised by Gerard Woodward.

Keywords: creative writing, creative-critical, novels, Native American literature, interracial relationships, 20th century, 21st century, post-Civil Rights era, racial tension, reservation life, social identity, cultural differences
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2016 16:09
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2016 15:12
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