Manifesting America: The Imperial Construction of U.S. National Space

Overview

The expansion of the U.S. in the antebellum period relied on the claim that the nation's boundaries were both self-evident and dependent on the consent of those enclosed within them. While the removal of American Indians and racism toward former Mexicans has been well-documented, little attention has been paid to the legal rhetorics through which the incorporation of these peoples and their territories was justified, portraying them as actively agreeing to come under the authority of the U.S. Yet even as the ...

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Manifesting America: The Imperial Construction of U.S. National Space

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Overview

The expansion of the U.S. in the antebellum period relied on the claim that the nation's boundaries were both self-evident and dependent on the consent of those enclosed within them. While the removal of American Indians and racism toward former Mexicans has been well-documented, little attention has been paid to the legal rhetorics through which the incorporation of these peoples and their territories was justified, portraying them as actively agreeing to come under the authority of the U.S. Yet even as the creation and extension of U.S. jurisdiction functioned as an imperial system, it did not go unchallenged by dominated populations. In Manifesting America, Mark Rifkin explores how writings by Native Americans and former Mexicans protested the legal narratives that would normalize their absorption into U.S. national space.

Focusing on Indian removal in the southeast and western Great Lakes regions as well as the annexation of Texas and California, the monograph tracks the confrontation between U.S. law and the self-representations of once-alien peoples newly subjected to it. Institutions in the U.S. legitimized conquest by creating forms of official recognition for dominated groups that reinforced the logic and justice of U.S. mappings. But the imposed mappings continued to be haunted by the persistence of earlier political geographies. Examining a variety of nonfictional writings (including memorials, autobiographies, and histories) produced by imperially displaced populations, Rifkin illustrates how these texts contest the terms and dynamics of U.S. policy by highlighting specific forms of collectivity and placemaking disavowed in official accounts. Persuasively argued and anchored with judicious research, Manifesting America provides an overdue chapter in the history of resistance to U.S. imperialism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Manifesting America is an important innovative work that will provoke argument and inspire emulation. Each chapter is compelling and rich in its interweaving of textual readings, history, and theory."-Amy Kaplan, University of Pennsylvania

"These steady-handed, often tough-minded readings document a genealogy of the interconnections between American Indian and Mexican-American experiences of American imperialism. Drawing on subaltern studies to great intellectual advantage, Mark Rifkin in Manifesting America innovates, re-imagines, and creates new pathways toward including indigeneity in American studies."-Robert Warrior, University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Manifesting America skillfully reorients American studies from its current fascination with the transnational, spotlighting instead processes through which the U.S. incorporated Indigenous and Mexican peoples and their lands into its national imaginary. Rifkin's attention to this discursive naturalization of U.S. authority as non-coercive reinvigorates the critique of empire-building at home."-Chadwick Allen, The Ohio State University

"Rifkin's study offers a critical genealogy of the dialectic of incorporation and acquiescence that persists as a central element of U.S. imperial nationalism. This path-breaking study will be widely read and discussed by scholars in American history, Native American studies, and American literary studies."-Donald E. Pease, Dartmouth College

"Compels us to think carefully of the rhetorical and legal legerdemain of imperial conquest and the centrality of language in the making of the United States as a hegemonic power. " —Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"Meticulously researched and sweeping in scope, Rifkin's book points us toward the many rewards not only of reading critically nonfictional texts within their communities but also of reading their communities within a richly complicated and cosmopolitan regional framework that unbounds Native American and literary studies in order to enter a dynamic and piercing engagement with allied areas of inquiry. Fiercely comparative and far-ranging, this book will sharpen debates in graduate seminars and conference panels across the discipline as we more fully integrate literary and nonliterary scholarly projects." —Studies in American Indian Literatures

"Brilliantly conceptualized and argued, Manifesting America is an essential and path-breaking contribution to the fields of Native American studies, Chicano/a-Latino/a studies, border studies, and American studies." —Wicazo Sa Review

"Rifkin's book...brings indigenous presence, culture, and activism to the fore, countering entrenched narratives of invisibility, powerlessness, and acquiescence with persistent and creative resistance to ongoing colonial oppression." —American Literature

"Rifkin convincingly demonstrates that the "dialectic of absorption and assent" framed U.S. imperial nationalism." —Western Historical Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199958498
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Rifkin is an Assistant Professor in the English Department of University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His research focuses on U.S. imperial and racial formations, particularly in the nineteenth century. Previously, he has taught at Skidmore College, University of Chicago, Fordham University, and the University of Pennsylvania, and his articles have appeared in American Quarterly, American Literature, American Indian Quarterly, boundary 2, GLQ, differences, Arizona Quarterly, and Cultural Critique.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Self-Determination, Subaltern Studies, and the Critical Remapping of U.S. Empire
1. Representing the Cherokee Nation: Imperial Power and Elite Interests in the Remaking of Cherokee Governance
2. The Territoriality of Tradition: Treaties, Hunting Grounds, and Prophecy in Black Hawk's Narrative
3. Comanche Metaphors: Juan Seguín's Memoirs and the Figure of the Barbarian in the Struggle for Texas
4. Partial Citizens and Insurgent Masses: Narrating Violence Past and Present in Post-1848 California
Index

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