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  • Protective Measures:Reflections on Robert Warrior's 2016 ASA Presidential Address
  • Dylan Rodríguez (bio)


Through and between Robert Warrior's words there is a tension between isolation and the labor of community—here, the collective work of peoplehood, an activated imagination of life and creativity under conditions of long, normalized duress. I suspect that this is the echoing of a biographical substance that is far more historically exemplary than it is conveniently individualized: Robert Warrior, Professor Warrior, understands better than most what it means to feel alone in hostile circumstances, more precisely, to live the strange loneliness of Indigeneity within the white university's genteel low-intensity warfare against all humanity that violates the templates of Civilization and its multiculturalist renovations.

At this time, all such revelations of vulnerability—however understated or, for many of us, painfully ashamed and hesitant because we feel obligated to show nothing but the strongest of faces when rendered palpably, coercively weak—must be honored and historicized as well as rigorously analyzed for the sake of martialing collective, protective measures. There are periods of crisis, and then there are times of emergency. They often overlap, and neither will dissipate automatically, but in the meantime, both are central to the acute, constant endangerment of precisely the insurgent creativities that animate and populate so many pedagogical-intellectual maneuvers against the Civilizational grain. Finding or creating "home" under such conditions may seem impossible, but if it is not (or if some of us act as if it is not), the scramble to make sense of how to gather for the sake of protection—homemaking under duress—becomes a fleeting modality of community within which other radical possibilities may lurk.

(It is to feel and be at home, on the move, for a time, in circumstances where the horizon of imagination is necessarily stretched to the galactic boondocks [End Page 221] because you do not have a choice, because there is nothing else there to protect you if you are not willing to undertake all means necessary to wage the counterwar that encompasses all physiological and social gestures toward futurity against evacuation, even if that futurity appears as a willful lie you whisper to your own creeping sense of displacement, irrelevance, mortality. And i suspect you know who you are.)

In his beautifully narrated, deeply personal presidential address, Robert Warrior reveals himself to us as one who has thrived and created under circumstances of grinding, daily, civilized denigrations. He has done so for the sake of bearing his particular historical burdens as a Native scholar, teacher, activist, intellectual—which is to say, as a Native person in the United States—but his words also compose an archive of evidence that the wars are overlapping, continuous, proximate, and generally symbiotic.


While it is convenient to be misled by the immediacies of the spectacle, the Dakota Access Pipeline standoff (#NoDAPL) led by the Standing Rock Sioux is not merely exposing the continental conquest-ensemble of police, oil interests, federal authorities, and white civil society—it is also amplifying the Hopi and Lakota peoples' long-prophesied warning of the Black Snake's invasion of Indigenous lifeworlds. For Robert Warrior and the Osage people, in this moment of "where," there is a continuity of uneven, though fully unbroken, Native life symmetries acting within/against such prophesy: symmetries traced across graves and mortal dust, acts that create and sustain the facts of displacement while conditioning the persistent claims to the integrity of Indigenous home, an imperial World War traversing multiple generations—in fact, through three blood-related Robert Warriors—kidnapping life from the very soldiers for whom the United States represents an evisceration of another Being, in-and-of-itself.

The politico-medical management (and reactionary discursive construction) of HIV+ status and AIDS, as Robert reminds us, emerged through the 1980s and early 1990s as the front line in "a war against gay men" in the Castro and all over; in short, simultaneous order, the same has become yet another modality of sub-Saharan African peoples' (and acutely, young African women's) subjection to a managerialized globality of exposure to preventable illness and early death. Steven Salaita, the 2016 winner...


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pp. 221-227
Launched on MUSE
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