Indigeneity and secularity

Claims to indigeneity are often linked with a commitment to the sacrality of place. This can range from Native American land rights claims to contestation over “homeland” in Israeli/Palestine, but also to European and American white nationalist movements and perhaps even to environmental justice movements.

How is indigeneity articulated within the political and legal language of secularism? Does secularism make certain claims to indigeneity illegible? What might this illegibility suggest about the close linkages between secularism, settler colonialism, and Protestant Christianity? Does the assertion of indigenous identity, of whatever kind, necessarily push against secularism’s “immanent frame,” or are there ways that indigenous identity—and perhaps even the category of indigeneity itself—is a product of secularity? How might these questions be approached differently when we shift from the register of rhetoric to the register of affect, probing what it means to feel “native.” And what is the relationship between this form of affect and what might be called religiosity?

This forum brings together scholars from a variety of fields (religious studies, anthropology, law, literature, cultural studies) to address these questions, creating a space to explore how scholarly discussions of settler colonialism, nationalism, race, and secularity might productively inform each other.

This forum was cocurated by editorial board members Mayanthi Fernando and Vincent Lloyd.