Gerald Vizenor's Transnational Aesthetics in Blue Ravens


  • Danne Jobin University of Kent



Gerald Vizenor, Anishinaabe, Transnational


In Blue Ravens, Gerald Vizenor employs his familiar trickster trope to expand Anishinaabe Indigenous networks to overseas territories in ways that affirm and reinvent existing connections between Indigenous peoples. More than any of the author's previous work, the novel deploys a transnational aesthetic which playfully explores potential avenues for Native⁠ sovereignty: a space of self-determination opened up by artistic production that juxtaposes an Anishinaabe sensibility onto French war scenes and the urban environment of Paris, thus imprinting Native presence onto the land. It enables like-minded individuals to find refuge and create a new order in which Native voices are heard and artistic influence is mutual as Indigenous artists participate in the thriving cultural scene of interwar France. Indeed, Vizenor's fiction explores mobile forms of citizenship, which do not attempt to regulate subjects but allow a celebration of communal as well as individual identities. The novel showcases a Native relationship to space transformed by Indigenous art into inventive, transnational forms of aesthetic citizenship. It also outlines dynamic maps of transnational networks that nevertheless retain their Indigenous, tribal-specific focus even as they open up the field for new exchanges with global spaces. The focus on Anishinaabe art and writing demonstrates that tribal national specificities, when entering transnational space, can adapt and evolve without compromising their integrity. As this article will show, instead of breaking its ties to White Earth, the protagonists' art transposes Anishinaabe aesthetics onto Parisian locales, thus exploring new forms of Indigenous sovereignty that span beyond political borders.




How to Cite

Jobin, D. (2019). Gerald Vizenor’s Transnational Aesthetics in Blue Ravens. Transmotion, 5(1), 33–55.