[Reading] ➿ Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide By Andrea Lee Smith – Dolove.info
Assigning this book as a capstone reading for an undergrad course I m teaching in the fall that examines US health movements in the twentieth century through an oppression resistance lens Smith s book brings it all together environmental justice, sexual violence, poverty, medical experiments, forced sterilization and other issues of reproductive justice, immigrant health, health care access, etc and fills in the gaps left by our other reading assignments, particularly in terms of social movement organizations the good, the bad, and the ugly and community resistance I ll agree with the other reviewers everyone should read this book. informative and well written Nothing special to say about it A Recognized Native American Scholar And Co Founder Of INCITE Women Of Color Against Violence, The Largest Grassroots, Multiracial Feminist Organization In The Country, Andrea Smith Cherokee Is An Emerging Leader In Progressive Political Circles In Conquest, Smith Places Native American Women At The Center Of Her Analysis Of Sexual Violence, Challenging Both Conventional Definitions Of The Term And Conventional Responses To The ProblemBeginning With The Impact Of The Abuses Inflicted On Native American Children At State Sanctioned Boarding Schools From The S To The S, Smith Adroitly Expands Our Conception Of Violence To Include Environmental Racism, Population Control And The Widespread Appropriation Of Indian Cultural Practices By Whites And Other Non Natives Smith Deftly Connects These And Other Examples Of Historical And Contemporary Colonialism To The High Rates Of Violence Against Native American Women The Most Likely Women In The United States To Die Of Poverty Related Illnesses, Be Victims Of Rape And Suffer Partner AbuseEssential Reading For Scholars And Activists, Conquest Is The Powerful Synthesis Of Andrea Smith S Intellectual And Political Work To Date By Focusing On The Impact Of Sexual Violence On Native American Women, Smith Articulates An Agenda That Is Compelling To Feminists, Native Americans, Other People Of Color And All Who Are Committed To Creating Viable Alternatives To State Based Solutions Violence against Native American women and women of color is a marginalized issue, as is the topic of how colonialist genocidal policies get internalized in corporate and state decision making.Smith asks why sexual violence is so prevalent in the U.S in the first place, and provides historical answers.Each chapter is direct, well researched, and unsettling Smith s scholarship on environmental racism, American Indian boarding schools, the appropriation and disrespect of Native American spirituality, and the policies of forced sterilization and experimentation on indigenous women are shocking They need to be talked about on a global scale.Her critique of the mainstream feminist movement and domestic violence model used in the United States should be required reading She describes in detail the organization she helped form, INCITE, and also provides strategies for anti violence activists that use creativity and community resources instead of over reliance on a police model that is often racist and irrelevant. DISCLAIMER Andrea Lee Smith is a fraud She has claimed time and time again to be Cherokee when the academic world and scholars of the Cherokee nation have exposed her identity as false She is a white woman, and a fraud.If you want to learn about the history of abuses, mistreatment, massacre, and cultural genocide of the Native Americans, this is not the book for it Smith relies on unreliable sources, twisted narratives, and simply false statements in order to get her narrative out She goes on extremely long tangents about vaccines note she is an anti vaxxer , politics, and pharmaceuticals when she should be focusing on the topic at hand, which is supposed to be a gendered study of the modern Native American experience Her writing is all over the place In one example, she spends the entire book writing about Native men and women in a binary way, and then doing a 180 in Chapter 8 near the end of the book talking about multiple genders in the Native American community She also doesn t seem to understand that native or Indian is a blanket term and does not even begin to explain the complex diversity of the various indigenous tribes and nations of America She blames the US for everything, even going so far as to say that George Bush was responsible for creating homophobia and sexism abroad in the Middle East, which is demonstrably false She twists police reports to fit her narrative, in one case writing that a Native woman was shot to death by police after calling about being domestically abused A quick Google search revealed that the woman was shot once without intent to kill Mountie training protocol calls for a shot to centre mass , because she was approaching the single officer brandishing a large butcher s knife, and was not compliant when told to lower her weapon The fact that this woman is a racial fraud and criticizes women who are ACTUALLY some percentage Cherokee, as well as dedicates an entire chapter to white appropriation of Native traditions, is beyond hypocritical Do not waste your time with this book, or any literature by Andrea Lee Smith If you want aauthentic source written by an ACTUAL Native American, I suggest you look elsewhere. Andrea Smith is brilliant and while i found some of this book to be a bit didactic mostly I think her writing is clear and straightforward And boy is she pissed With good reason. The title says it Andrea Smith writes with clarity and delivers her arguments with powerful evidence that can sometimes be very disturbing to read After reading it, it feels like a central piece that was once missing in history s great puzzle is finally in place She makes connections between feminism, current U.S politics, history, environmental justice, and human rights I would recommend this excellent book to everyone. There s some good stuff in here The portions about Native Americans and the criminal justice system seem particularly timely The strength of this book is probably as a summary of semi current issues and activist approaches to problems facing indigenous women and their communities I m not sure that much is original here most important points are citations to others A couple things did bother me despite the attempts at intersectional approaches, I found many generalizations that were undertheorized, lacked nuance, were inaccurate, or were missed opportunities to correctly diagnose describe the structural issues at play A few of many examples repeats anti vaccine rhetoric uncritically to bolster emotional appeal to medical experimentation, critiques the energy independence argument made by resource extractors but fails to see how the application of eminent domain and issues around pipelines and fracking has impacted all poor rural communities i.e sacrifice zones , and seems attached to a strong theory about the inherent corruption of American statehood In particular, the discussion of historical native societies seemsprelapsarianand historically uninformed except in the broadest strokes Additionally, her critiques of appropriation especially by religious scholars , the harm caused by professionals in the field who support their own careers first, mentions of whites playing indian , and the continuous use of we , read ironically after last year s public refutations of her long asserted claims of native identity Still, a lot of the good work summarized in this book is based on the work and thoughts of smart Native scholars and women of color activists and a lot of it is worth thinking about and enacting I ll probably getout of the bibliography than I ll use from the text. Smith s account of the many, many ways state and societal violence have been and continue to be perpetrated against indigenous people focusing mostly on the Americas is a difficult but necessary read Seriously, all non indigenous Americans should read this book Longer thoughts coming.eta Conquest starts with the observation that sexual and reproductive violence against Native women are forms of racial and colonial violence, unpacking the various ways in which sexual violence serves the goals of colonialism, an examination that Smith argues forces us to reconsider how we define sexual violence, as well as the strategies we employ to eradicate gender violence In her analysis, environmental racism and exploitation, forced assimilation cultural genocide, spiritual appropriation, medical discrimination, and colonialism empire are all connected to sexual and reprodutive violence against Native people.Examples Conquest pushes the definition of sexual violence to include reproductive violence and injustice White Western medicine has a long history of nonconsensual sterilization of and experimentation on Native bodies Native women have been disproportionately exposed todangerous or experimental forms of birth control, often without their informed consent Medical discrimination and systemic, racialized poverty mean that Native women and communities have less access to birth control, abortion, and maternal family health services Smith also explores the impact of environmental racism and exploitation on reproductive and family health in Native communities women of color are suffering not only from environmental racism but environmental sexism p 69 The burden of environmental pollution from toxic wastes, weapons testing, workplace exposure, and other sources disproportionately fall on people of color e.g., reservations and other Native lands are frequent sites of waste dumps, mining for radioactive materials, and nuclear testing These environmental injustices lead to higher rates of conditions like ovarian cancer, miscarriages and stillbirths, and birth anomalies in Native communities The long history of forced assimilation and cultural genocide through the boarding school system Native children were taken from their communities to be educated into conforming to Christian Western culture meant Native youth were subjected to rampant abuses, including a high incidence of sexual abuse The boarding school system also undermined the stability of Native families and communities, introduced patterns of gendered violence into these communities, and worked to displace traditions that provided Native women with positions of leadership with Western patriarchal norms Smith connects systemic appropriation of Native religious practices to the idea that Native bodies are inherently rapable Appropriation of Native spiritualities is part of white Western taking from Native people without asking that assumes the needs of the taker are paramount and the needs of others are irrelevant, mirroring the rape culture of the dominant society 126.Smith shows how both colonizing cultures and mainstream social justice movements rely on historical and cultural narrative that requires Native people to play dead That is, we systematically pretend that Native Americans are long gone, absent, or vanishing Indigenous people are either living relics or imagined symbols of a mythical past, which we can then ignore or appropriate the memory of as convenient Kate Shanley notes that Native peoples are a permanent present absence in the U.S colonial imagination, an absence that reinforces at every turn the conviction that Native peoples are indeed vanishing and that the conquest of Native lands is justified This tendency to treat Native communities as dead is evident in modern social justice movements, for example, in how mainstream environmentalism doesn t center Native communities or even form pro environment alliances with them, instead allying with groups that often have racist, classist, and anti immigrant agendas dedicated to reducing population growth of all peoples in theory and of people of color in reality 78 Alarmist rhetoric about overpopulation is often a thin veil for implicit or overt prejudice against communities of color and a desire to restrict their reproduction, growth, and even movements At the time of the book s writing, e.g., prominent members of the Sierra Club were also members of the anti immigrant group FAIR Smith also documents attempts to pressure the Sierra Club into advocating anti immigrant positions Meanwhile, mostly white non indigenous environmentalist groups often push for land protection policies that are harmful to Native people actually living on off the land in question.The major example Smith gives of how mainstream activism expects Native women in particular to play dead is the failure of both anti racists indigenous activists and advocates against domestic violence to center Native women in their work Conquest calls on activists in both communities to adopt intersectional and community based approaches to combating racism and gender violence together.Approaches to gendered violence that rely heavily on state police intervention and the prison system only address violence after the fact and have limited use in preventing domestic violence or protecting survivors in general For Native women, Smith argues, these approaches are actively harmful in a culture where Native women, other women of color, and people of color in general are disproportionately and often unjustly incarcerated, and in a culture where state violence police brutality, racism and sexism in the prison system, etc are a major cause of and contributor to gender violence in Native communities.Instead, Smith calls for domestic violence prevention and survivor support strategies that are based in community accountability and redressing economic injustices that make women of colorvulnerable to abuse and less able to leave abusive homes or partners This model means creating communities that are educated about domestic violence, intervene in abusive situations, hold abusers accountable, and materially support survivors The long term goal of such a model would be to build communities where violence becomes unthinkable by fostering real communal consequences for and responses to abuse.One thing I really appreciated about Smith s take on community based responses to violence is that she acknowledges the the serious obstacles that exist to putting it into practice effectively Sometimes it is easy to underestimate the amount of intervention that is required before a perpetrator can really change his behavior Often a perpetrator will subject her himself to community accountability measures but eventuality will tire of them If community members are not vigilant about holding the perpetrator accountable for years and instead assume he or she is cured, the perpetrator can turn a community of accountability into a community that enables abuse 164 In addition to this, so much of what allows abusers to get away with violence is community investment in preserving the group Or rather, a particular understanding of group safety that often means that the safety of vulnerable members of the group often women and children is treated as less of a priority What Smith argues for is a reversal of this mindset, to one where the wellbeing and safety of women and youth rather than the protection of abusers are seen as central to the health of the community But this requires a pretty radical cultural shift for many communities For this reason I have a lot of concerns about the effectiveness of community based approaches in keeping survivors and vulnerable populations safe and keeping abusers to account of course, the current system isn t terribly effective, either.All in all, Conquest is a great book, persuasively and clearly written Some historians might be skeptical of how Smith works with chronology and geography, jumping back and forth between different periods and places I think it s very effective at showing the continuities between the genocide and exploitation of indigenous peoples that we think of as being in the past and the present, global realities of state and interpersonal violence against indigenous people Conquest raises a lot of thought provoking questions that the mainstream feminist and anti violence movements still haven t started to grapple with, but really need to. Review originally posted on A Skeptical Reader A nation is not conquered until the hearts of the women are on the ground 33 Conquest Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide by Andrea Smith looks at the effects and the effectiveness of colonization of the indigenous people It concentrates primarily on the violence committed against women and children, as they remain most vulnerable members of the community, but Smith also addresses the overarching concern of contemporary genocide of the Native communities.This isn t an easy book to read by any means, but a really important one to consider Among many other concerns, a few of the conversations in the book revolve around assimilation practices at boarding residential schools, medical experimentation, indigenous women s reproductive health such as the promotion of abortion to reduce population and infertility operations performed without consent , sexual appropriation, andThe last quarter of the book also brings up the topic of violence within miniority communities and how women of color are often asked to tolerate domestic violence to present a unified front against the white oppressor.Most of my familiarity with indigenous history is covered in the earlier chapters, particularly the attempts of colonizers to dehumanize indigenous peoples Thankfully, this is a chapter that was briefly addressed in early American history courses, if still unsatisfactorily An interesting layer I hadn t uncovered myself was the one where Smith showcases the snowball effect of white men attempting to throw indigenous women off the pedestal they maintained in native communities, and how it ultimately affected white women into shunning the native women and thus, they too fell into the trap of playing damsels in distress Smith emphasizes, in order to colonize the people whose society was not hierarchical, colonizers must first naturalize hierarchy through instituting patriarchy Patriarchal gender violence is the process by which colonizers inscribe hierarchy and domination on the bodies of the colonized Apparently, Native woman can only be free while under the dominion of white men, and both Native and white women have to be protected from Indian men rather than from white men 23 Because indigenous peoples can t possibly have better societies than the white man s, correct What a saddening history for all womenkind.The last quarter of the book was something I enjoyed the most because in many ways I found myself relating to it a lot As a woman of color, the decision to let go of the inner community violence for the greater cause is often a harrowing one While I agree with Smith that racism and sexism are conjoined like grape vines, often violence against women of color is undercut and ignored by the mainstream advocates that only enforces the racial prejudice of our society.Similarly, she also touches on the importance of inclusivity in communities of color A small section which looked at the struggle for reparations points out that African Americans asking for monetary reparations are ignoring the fact that this will only cut intoindigenous land Her suggestion, which I wholeheartedly support, is to work together and find a better way to reconcile our past She writes, simply paying a lump sum for the injustices it has perpetrated and continues to perpetrate, the U.S can absolve itself of any responsibility to transform these institutionalized structures white supremacy 53 Realistically, monetary payment won t fix the psychologically damaged states of our communities so what we need is perhaps asociologically beneficial approach Sadly, while I found her solution rather exciting, she fails to properly lay out the basis for how we may achieve such a goal.Likewise, indigenous people are also often seen at the forefront of anti immigration debates and while the nationalists would have one convinced that this is simply a shared belief to protect the American landscape, this attitude can only backfire on indigenous peoples themselves By aligning with anti immigration parties, they are only reinforcing the US sovereignty over all land She states this as a matter of self preservation in the end, which I didn t care for, but her point isn t wrong.However, readers should be aware that this book is slightly old Majority of the events relayed in the book are anywhere from twenty to thirty years old While I certainly don t think we ve made huge leaps since then, especially in the United States, I found the outdate nature of the book bothersome in that I still have no information on the ongoing politics It s not a reason to pass on this book entirely, but be aware that this might hinder the reader s ability to be up to date on the events discussed.Another reason this book isn t always such an excellent read is because the writing style and form is quite weak At times the book readslike an introductory essay written by a college student One of the worst errors you can commit while writing an academic paper is to begin your argument with any phase reminiscent of here I shall discuss She does this often and not only is distracting, it s also something that just felt unprofessional Don t tell what you re going to write about, show me it The quoting could ve used some culling as well since she also has a pattern of paraphrasing something by someone and then also adding the actual quote in itself One doesn t need both one or the other should be sufficient.Conquest is a good book, if at times a bit difficult to get through given the topic I didn t always see eye to eye with Smith on everything, but it s a good place for me to start learning .