I was having issues wrapping my head around the concepts of modernity vs. traditionalism. I understand the notion of modernity, as Jen shared, to be of ideological influence used in specific moments for specific reasons. This is wonderfully shown through Deloria’s diverse examples—via sports, automobiles, film representation etc and how he breaks dominant stereotypes that the Native body has always been in opposition to Modernity. Where I started having trouble keeping up was when the question of “what does indigenous modernity look like”? Below is the marathon that my frontal lobe ran while hearing y’all discuss:
“Modernity is a concept that was/is used to legitimize and justify western ideology and practices in the Americas. Right? So if modernity is defined in accordance to the primitive—as West reminds us (frontiers of capitalism)—then the very concept of modernity lies in the separation from that which is not historically/distinctly white-capitalist?
To situate Deloria’s theory of the unexpected, we can begin to understand how First Peoples have never been separated from the pathway toward modernity, but rather, the unexpected allows us to see the material realities of Modernity to be a fallacy in and of itself because Indians [have always been] in unexpected places.
This makes the idea of indigenous modernities difficult for me to grasp seeing that modernity cannot identify itself without positioning itself in separation from an Othered. Does that make sense?”
I guess what I am trying to express is that I cannot fathom right now as to whether Indigenous folks are/will be considered to be a part of Modernity if at the very seams these western stereotypes view Native peoples as anomalies to capitalism. Which is why, I believe, Deloria spent so much time excavating the 20th century’s then-contemporary capitalist moment (industrial capitalism).
The capitalism of the 20th century is quite different from the capitalism of today. While the maintenance of a white-male only consumer was its priority, today (as we have seen through the interventions of Coombe and West) neoliberal capitalism functions by absorbing all/any difference.
Annita’s examples of the musical works of Indigenous artists for me doesn’t suggest what Deloria calls “unexpected”—because I am viewing the “unexpected” to be situated in the way capitalism worked in the 20th century. So, given today’s neoliberal conjecture, I guess I ask are there really anymore “unexpected” examples today that cannot be consumed to be operative under Modernity (post-Modernity)? The Papua New Guinea folk surely give us some insight into this question right?
Anyways, that is kinda what I have to share in this post-Deloria discussion brief. I apologize for submitting these thoughts later than intended, but this tofu lasagna took slightly longer to prepare/bake. Once again, it was a great pleasure to be a part of such a critical conversation.