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Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity challenges conventional understandings of identity based on notions of nation and culture as bounded or discrete. Through careful examinations of various transnational, hybrid, border, and diasporic forces and practices, these essays push at the edge of cultural studies, postmodernism, and postcolonial theory and raise crucial questions about ethnographic methodology.

This volume exemplifies a cross-disciplinary cultural studies and a concept of culture rooted in lived experience as well as textual readings. Anthropologists and scholars from related fields deploy a range of methodologies and styles of writing to blur and complicate conventional dualisms between authors and subjects of research, home and away, center and periphery, and first and third world. Essays discuss topics such as Rai, a North African pop music viewed as westernized in Algeria and as Arab music in France; the place of Sephardic and Palestinian writers within Israel's Ashkenazic-dominated arts community; and the use and misuse of the concept "postcolonial" as it is applied in various regional contexts.

In exploring histories of displacement and geographies of identity, these essays call for the reconceptualization of theoretical binarisms such as modern and postmodern, colonial and postcolonial. It will be of interest to a broad spectrum of scholars and students concerned with postmodern and postcolonial theory, ethnography, anthropology, and cultural studies.

Contributors. Norma Alarcon, Edward M. Bruner, Nahum D. Chandler, Ruth Frankenberg, Joan Gross, Dorinne Kondo, Kristin Koptiuch, Smadar Lavie, Lata Mani, David McMurray, Kirin Narayan, Greg Sarris, Ted Swedenburg

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822317203
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Smadar Lavie is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Critical Theory at the University of California at Davis.

Ted Swedenburg is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the American University in Cairo.

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Read an Excerpt

Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity

By Smadar Lavie, Ted Swedenburg

Duke University Press

Copyright © 1996 Duke University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8223-7957-7




Anthropologists and others interested in California Indian culture and history have long wondered about the Bole Maru (Dream Dance) cult, the latter-nineteenth-century nationalistic and revivalistic movement among the Pomo Indians and their neighbors. Scholars such as Cora DuBois have wondered about its origins, its purposes, its decline. I know much about this movement. I know how it started, and about its purposes and its persistence in a certain Pomo community today. I know about the Bole Maru because I am a member of that Pomo community and participate in ceremonies associated with the cult. Yet my particular position as a writer is awkward. As writer or ethnographer, I am also insider, subject and object at the same time. Consequently, I am positioned so that in talking about the Bole Maru to outsiders, I may be jeopardizing my people's resistance to cultural and political domination. What am I doing talking or writing about the Bole Maru to an unknown reader? What can be accomplished for me, for the reader, or for my Indian community?

In this essay, I want to explore these questions and demonstrate the ways that writing about the Bole Maru can at once illuminate the complex intercultural topic and the identity of the writer, and serve to interrogate and ultimately replace a single dominant (colonial) discourse with a multi-voiced discourse that more accurately represents the life of the writer and the topic at hand.

California Indian peoples' participation in the Bole Maru varies. Just as I have been taught by my elders, I am writing only about my own tribes, my own Indian family, my own experiences and history. My voice, my authority as speaker, is shaped by my experiences and history. My father, Emilio Hilario, was a descendant of the Kashaya Pomo and Coast Miwok tribes. Coast Miwok territory extends from what many people now call San Francisco Bay north to the Russian River in Sonoma County, California. The Russian River is the acknowledged boundary between the Miwok and the Kashaya Pomo. Kashaya territory extends north from the Russian River for about forty miles along the coast and inland for about twenty-five miles.

"Miracles" is the Kashaya Pomo term for white people—first the Spanish, then the Russians, then other Euroamericans. At one point, during the Mexican occupation of the surrounding Pomo (i.e., southern Pomo) and Coast Miwok territories, the term applied to Mexicans also. In Kashaya Pomo it is ph alá? cay?. As one Kashaya Pomo elder told me, "The invaders are miracles, miraculous. They think they can kill and plunder and get away with it." The word reminds us of who they are, and of course of who we are. We read certain behaviors seemingly characteristic of whites as ph alá? cay?. A glance across the room at one another when in the presence of whites signals ph alá? cay?. We know then what to say and what not to say. We shift and adjust our behavior, our responses. We remember that the miracles don't see things as we do, that they will take our words and use them in inappropriate ways, ways that to us are miraculous, unbelievable, dangerous for everyone in the long run. The same elder who talked about the invaders (miracles) plundering and killing, laughed and said, "But the miracles ain't really miracles or special. Look around, it has all come back on them, on everything. Look at the world, the pollution, the sick people. Still, they act like miracles. Watch them."

Ph alá? cay?. The word has always been a way of dealing with the invaders. So has the Bole Maru.

It's history.

It's a long story, and it's many stories.


1579 Drake sails into a bay in southern Coast Miwok territory. Drake and his men land, and from June to July of that year trade with the native people for food and artwork—baskets, beads, costumes.

The Spanish ship Cermeño sinks in Drake's Bay before its crew is able to land.

1603 Spanish explorer Vizcaino sails into Coast Miwok territory, looking for theCermeño's wreck.

1769 The Bucareli party, arriving by land, discovers the site of San Francisco and sets its sights on land to the north, across the bay.

1770 Ayala, on the San Carlos, lands off the Coast Miwok territory and trades beads and trinkets for pinole.

1775 Bodega y Cuadra discovers Bodega Bay in north Coast Miwok territory.

1794 Spanish padres establish a mission in San Francisco.

1800-10 Large numbers of Natives—Valley and Delta Yokuts, Miwok (Coast and Inland), and Wintun—appear at the San Francisco mission.

1809 Russian explorer Kuskof spends the spring and summer in the Bodega Bay area.

1810 The Spanish officer Gálvez marches his company of armored soldiers from the Presidio in San Francisco north through Coast Miwok territory, into southern and central Pomo territories.

1811-12 Kuskof returns to Coast Miwok/Kashaya Pomo territory and establishes a Russian colony at the site of the Kashaya central coastal village called Metini. Ninety-five Russians and probably eighty Aleuts, brought by the Russians from the Russian colony of Alaska, build Fort Ross.

1817 Spanish padres and military establish Mission San Rafael in central Coast Miwok territory.

1835 Mission San Rafael is secularized, and Mexicans continue settling Coast Miwok and Pomo territories. They establish an elaborate slave raiding and trading system, forcing Pomo and Miwok people into slavery and taking them as far away as Mexico. The Russians, in a territorial dispute with the Mexicans, arm the Kashaya Pomo against the Mexicans. Fort Ross and surrounding Russian-occupied territory is considered a sanctuary for Indians.

1838 Smallpox epidemic kills over 90 percent of the remaining Miwok and over 80 percent of the Pomo.

1842 Russians abandon Fort Ross after depleting the coast from San Francisco to Oregon of sea otters.

1850 California, now a state, passes the first official piece of legislation: the Act for the Government and Protection of Indians, which legalizes Indian slavery, stipulating that Indians are the rightful property of the owners of the land on which they reside.

1865 Large-scale logging operations begin in Coast Miwok and coastal Pomo territories. By the turn of the century, 99 percent of original redwood forests are gone.

1868 Act for the Government and Protection of Indians is repealed.

1870-1900 Small land plots are established by priests and others for homeless Indians. Plots are locally known as rancherías.

1914 Kashaya Pomo are federally recognized as an Indian tribe and are given thirty-nine acres on top of a mountain in Kashaya territory, the site of the present-day Kashaya Pomo reservation.

1928 The Coast Miwok are for the third time denied federal recognition as an Indian tribe as well as their requests for a land base.

1975 Park rangers at Point Reyes State Park, in Coast Miwok territory, note, as part of their tour routine, that there are no more Coast Miwok Indians.


Mrs. Juanita Carrio, late Coast Miwok elder and granddaughter of Maria Copa, Isabel Kelley's informant for the Coast Miwok tribe: "It flew into the Roundhouse at Nicasias. The white owl. My grandmother told me this. The people were dancing. Some kind of ceremony. And they looked up. It was on the rafters, the white owl. It said to all the people: 'Prepare to die. Ghost people are coming, a strange people. They are coming and gonna kill everything, kill the earth. They gonna kill people with all kinds of sickness.'

"After that the people started crying. It watched them, that white owl, and I suppose it cried, too, because how would it live if it couldn't talk to people?

"Well, when that first white man came, what you call Drake, the people, they ran into the hills. They waited some time. Then they put ashes all over their bodies, painted themselves like they were dead. They cried out loud, wailed. That way they went back down to meet that man.

"He left after a while. He didn't kill the people. I heard a couple of those white men stayed. I don't know. Anyway, the people thought it would be O.K. But the White people came back. That was just the start. The owl was true."

Juanita Carrio: "The old people say their parents used to hide them anytime Mexicans or whites came around. Those Mexicans and whites, they took the children and sold them. The mothers had to hide their children. Hardly no men around because the Mexicans got them all. This my grandmother told me, too."

David Carrio (son of Juanita Carrio): "My Mom told me that her grandmother's [Maria Copa's] uncle was a medicine man. He had a power spirit. He could hide from the whites and watch over his people. But he couldn't kill. That was the rule. Then one day he found two soldiers raped and killed his wife. He tracked them down and killed them. Then the whites sent a posse after him. They caught him. They lynched him in San Rafael. I hear it was in the newspapers."

A family story: My great-great-grandfather's mother was named Tsupu. She was Coast Miwok. She was captured by General Vallejo's Mexican soldiers and taken to his fort in Petaluma. She was about twelve or thirteen. Vallejo's soldiers molested the young Indian girls they captured. People say they tortured them, raped them. Most of them died. Tsupu escaped. At the time she was the last living member of her Miwok band. She walked over fifty miles to Kashaya Pomo territory, to Fort Ross. There she married a Kashaya Pomo man. His name was Komtechal. People say it was a Russian name. I don't know.

Juanita Carrio: "I think about a lot of things I don't want to think about. But they come up. Like mean, twisted flowers. I think of Crawling Woman, my grandmother's grandmother. That wasn't her name, Crawling Woman. We just remember her that way. I think the mission [in San Rafael] has her down as Juana Maria. That isn't her name either.

"She was a grown woman when the first Spanish came and set up the mission. They say she ran away [from the mission] once and they found her in the creek. She was face down, stiff as a board. Like she was dead. They brought her back that way. On a wagon bed. She was stiff as a board.

"She lived a long time after that. She lived up to this century. She saw everything right up to this time. But she was senile. Last years of her life she was like a child. She didn't know anybody. She couldn't take care of herself. And she crawled. She crawled everywhere, out of the house, up the road. She went fast. Lots of times my grandmother couldn't find her. Then lots of times she wouldn't come back. They used to have an old Mexican general's coat in the house. It had shiny brass buttons down the front. They used to put that on and go out after the old lady. The kids did that. She would see that coat and the buttons, those brass buttons, and she would screech, scream like murder, and crawl back to the house and get under the bed."

Violet Chappell, Kashaya Pomo historian: "Those Russians worked us like slaves. I don't care what the history books say. Grandma Rosie told me. Then when they was going, those Russians roped six of our women. They caught them, tied them up like cattle, and took them on their boat. We never seen those women again. I suppose we got cousins in Russia. I don't know. But now those Russians, they come back to see their history. They go to the Fort [Ross]. One of them asked to meet the Indians."

David Carrio: "Yeah, one day I took my kids to Point Reyes. We was in a group of people taking the tour and this park ranger says all the Miwok is dead. I looked at my kids and started crying. Then I looked at the ranger and shouted out: 'Do I look dead?'"


In the winter of 1871-72 a Pomo medicine man called all the Pomo and neighboring tribes to the eastern shores of Clear Lake in Lake County, where his followers had constructed seven semi-subterranean earth lodges to protect the Indians against the flood that this man claimed would cleanse the world of white people and restore the earth. Over a thousand people gathered under the seven earth lodges. It rained steadily for four days and four nights, and then stopped. When the faithful emerged from the earth lodges, they found themselves face to face with the U.S. Cavalry, who had been called in to handle "an Indian uprising." The U.S. military dispersed the Pomo, Miwok, Wappo, and Wintun who had gathered to witness the old medicine man's dream of restoration and rebirth.

Of course the people were disappointed when Taylor's Dream proved untrue. But what they carried home with them, what they had heard during their stay in the lodges, was the spirit of revitalization. Each tribe of Pomo, Miwok, Wappo, and Wintun subsequently produced its own prophets, locally known as Dreamers, who carried on and developed what came to be known as the Bole Maru (Dream Dance) cult in specific ways, with specific dances and rituals.

Although the influence of these Bole Maru dreamers was different from tribe to tribe, and each tribe had its own Dreamer and individual dances, songs, and costumes associated with that Dreamer, certain features new to native religion and social organization emerged throughout the territory. Where once there had been many private or secret cults within a tribe, now the entire tribe was united under one cult, the Bole Maru. The Dreamers stressed the afterlife and preached the Protestant work ethic and Puritan principles of cleanliness and abstinence. They forbade gambling and drinking. They insisted that women keep their bodies covered at all times, particularly during ceremonial activities, in high-necked, long dresses that covered the legs and upper arms. The dreamers were predominantly women, and although they were not called chiefs, they assumed the role of the tribal leaders, organizing their respective tribes' social and political activities around the doctrine of their Dreams.

Cora DuBois, the Harvard anthropologist who studied the Bole Maru in the 1930s, saw the movement as a significant revivalist effort. Yet she seemed to imply that in the long run it generally opened the door to further Christianization and the decline of Indian religion and ideology. In 1939 she wrote: "At the moment it represents one of the terminal points in a progressively Christian ideology, for which [like the Plains] Ghost Dance and its subsequent cults were the transitional factors" (1971:499). By the winter of 1871-72, massacres, disease, and slave raiding reduced most of the tribes (i.e., Pomo, Coast Miwok) to well under 10 percent of their precontact population. They had lost virtually all of the land they once called home and lived on the land of local ranchers, only with the approval of the ranchers, whom they served as a source of cheap labor (Bean and Theodoratus 1978:299). Christian groups moved in, Catholic and Protestant, and agreed to protect and help those Indians who converted. Given these conditions and the general domination and oppression that has followed the Natives to the present, it is no wonder that what DuBois saw, like the settlers and missionaries before her, were the ways in which the Natives, in a surviving religious cult or otherwise, integrated the Christian religion and Victorian ideology at the expense of their own identities and beliefs. Clearly, the Natives could not afford to show how a blending of different religious and cultural ideas laid the foundation for a fierce Indian resistance that exists in many places to this day.

While Indian people donned Victorian clothing and lived seemingly Christian lives, their Bole Maru leaders inculcated an impassioned Indian nationalism in the homes and roundhouses. They deemed everything associated with the white world taboo; they forbade interactions with whites except for necessary work-related situations. They prohibited intermarriage with the foreigners or miracles. They taught that the invaders had no place in the afterlife, and that unnecessary association with them could cost a person the reward of everlasting life. Some Pomo tribes practiced the infanticide of mixed-blood children. Seen from an Indian nationalist perspective, the assimilation of Victorian ideology looks very different. The ban on drinking, gambling, and adultery assured the continuance not only of individual tribes but also of given family lines within the tribes. And while the Bole Maru united each tribe around a particular cult, it influenced the revival of other ancient cults and secret societies. Families associated with certain secret cults again had sons and daughters who could learn and carry on special traditions. So while the Bole Maru was emergent in terms of its doctrine and social and religious structure, it simultaneously enhanced the resurgence and fortification of many precontact structures integral to Native life and ideology. In sum, it seems, from this perspective, that the Native people adopted what was useful in Victorian ideology and biblical religion.


Excerpted from Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity by Smadar Lavie, Ted Swedenburg. Copyright © 1996 Duke University Press. Excerpted by permission of Duke University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction. Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity 1
Living With Miracles: The Politics and Poetics of Writing American Indian Resistance and Identity 27
Anzaldua's Frontera: Inscribing Gynetics 41
Blowups in the Borderzones: Third World Israeli Authors' Gropings for Home 55
The Narrative Production of "Home," Community, and Political Identity in Asian American Theater 97
Arab Noise and Ramadan Nights: Rai, Rap, and Franco-Maghrebi Identities 119
Tourism in the Balinese Borderzone 157
Songs Lodged in Some Hearts. Displacements of Women's Knowledge in Kangra 181
"Cultural Defense" and Criminological Displacements: Gender, Race, and (Trans)Nation in the Legal Surveillance of U.S. Diaspora Asians 215
The Figure of the X: An Elaboration of the Du Boisian Autobiographical Example 235
Crosscurrents, Crosstalk: Race, "Postcoloniality," and the Politics of Location 273
Bibliography 295
Index 325
Contributors 333
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