- Indigenous Cities: Urban Indian Fiction and the Histories of Relocation by Laura M. Furlan
IN INDIGENOUS CITIES: Urban Indian Fiction and the Histories of Relocation, Laura M. Furlan demonstrates that contemporary indigeneity is traversed by the urban experience and its narratives. Dealing with contemporary theories of diaspora, transnationalism, and cosmopolitism, Furlan articulates the transportability of cultural identities, affiliations, and ideas, situating Native identity through the urban stories written by Janet Campbell Hale, Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, and Susan Power alongside other Native artists and filmmakers. Furlan disassembles outdated theories that state that authentic Native writing should come only from the reservations, debunking the narrative elaborated and maintained by coloniality that affirms that Indigenous peoples cannot live in the cities and that they do not belong to urban centers, which strengthens the ghettoization of the First Nations to the confined spaces determined by coloniality. Thus, considering the persistent mindset of coloniality, which deprives Indigenous peoples of urban landscapes, the reservation could be understood not only as a place of resistance but also as the only "authorized space" for Indigenous survival.
Laura M. Furlan holds a B.A. in American studies from the University of Iowa, an M.A. in English from San Diego State University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In Indigenous Cities she exposes how urban Indian literature provides a fuller imaginary of the Indigenous peoples of North America, as stated by the author. Furlan broadens how urban Native literature explores the tension between local and global culture, between traditional knowledge and the cosmopolitan world. Urban Indigenous texts formulate a new tribal consciousness, uncovering a cosmopolitan Indigenous past and reminding us that Indigenous peoples' places are all places and not only those designated by the forcible removal of Native peoples. Considering the vast subject of Indigenous literature, Furlan's work provides a good and up-to-date viewpoint on urban Indigenous artistic production, especially literature. Moreover, she does not colonize Native epistemologies and art by applying outdated theories still embedded by coloniality.
Indigenous Cities presents a significant overview of urban Indigenous artistic production and how dislocated subjects explore different senses [End Page 178] of rootedness or rootlessness regarding their geographies of home, nation, place, and space. Furlan's work relates to epistemologies being produced in Latin America, such as the decolonial turn, working toward a decolonizing viewpoint and the production of new epistemologies. Throughout Furlan's examinations and theorizations about Native citizenship and identity, she does not paternalize Native identities and experiences or romanticize an ideal Native America that could reinforce stereotypes that must be questioned.
Indigenous Cities is a groundbreaking study on the literary production of Native writers and their representation of indigeneity in urban spaces. In a world still sunk in coloniality, Furlan depicts Native identities as complex as they are, highlighting how their cosmopolitan identities do not invalidate their Native selves. Indigenous dislocation and relocation lead to the constant interlacing of the notions of space, place, home, belonging, nonbelonging, in-betweenness, and nationhood, subjects that are posed as issues in contemporaneity but that have not yet been solved. By providing a thorough analysis of urban Native literature, Furlan works toward the deconstruction of the marginalization of intertribal relations and urban lives, exposing how Native American literature was pervaded not only by the reflexes of relocation and Indigenous diaspora but also by a strong sense of reclaiming and reshaping Indigenous identities. Furthermore, considering that the majority of American Indigenous populations does not inhabit reservations, urban spaces usually permeate the literary production of Native authors, nourishing discussions about Native belonging and identity.
In summary, Indigenous Cities: Urban Indian Fiction and the Histories of Relocation by Laura M. Furlan provides a decolonial and contemporary study of the literary representation of Native peoples in urban spaces. It breaks with the commonplace theoretical and literary analyses of Indigenous authors' productions in an urban context. Furlan goes beyond the outmoded understandings of Native identities as restricted to reservations, trespassing the ghettoization and marginalization of urban Indigenous identities. Her work provides a...