Untranslatable Timescapes in James Welch’s Fools Crow and the Deconstruction of Settler Time
Keywords: settler time, textual resistance, Euro-Western knowledge, indigenous worldviews
AbstractSince the nineteenth century, hegemonic Euro-Western ideas of time have constituted it as being linear, progressive, objectifiable, and measurable. What happens if Euro-Western readers are confronted with indigenous temporalities that do not conform to this dominant temporal understanding? In the globally published novel Fools Crow, by Native American Renaissance writer James Welch, past, present, and future are inseparable. These temporal layers constantly interact with each other and influence the story’s course of events. This essay shows how Welch’s temporalizations constitute a fundamental untranslatability in the novel. Its employment of indigenous forms of time are inimical to Euro-Western notions of it and cannot be integrated into the US American idea of “settler time” as embodying and bringing progress. In Fools Crow, Welch refuses to glorify the westward expansion of the USA, during which the novel is set, through the master narratives of the frontier and Manifest Destiny. Instead, Fools Crow offers a fictional account — narrated exclusively from the point of view of indigenous Pikuni protagonists — that depicts the consequences of settler encroachment, the destruction of livelihood, the near-annihilation of whole tribes from epidemics, the massacres. This essay explores the ways in which Fools Crows’ temporal untranslatability advances insights into the economies and hegemonies of Euro-Western knowledge production. It illustrates how the novel deconstructs Euro-Western assumptions of time as self-evident, naturally-given, and universal, contrasting them with indigenous ideas of time as inimical and untranslatable to Euro-Western temporalization. This untranslatability, it concludes, helps to define and contour the limits of Euro-Western knowledge.
How to Cite
Wiese, D. (2019). Untranslatable Timescapes in James Welch’s Fools Crow and the Deconstruction of Settler Time. Transmotion, 5(1), 56-75. https://doi.org/10.22024/UniKent/03/tm.537
Copyright (c) 2019 Doro Wiese
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