Native Speakers: Ella Deloria, Zora Neale Hurston, Jovita Gonzaalez, and the Poetics of Culture

By MarÍa Eugenia Cotera | Go to book overview
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PART TWO

Re-Writing Culture
Storytelling and the Decolonial Imagination

With the loss of Ethnographic Authority, the subjects about whom we write
now write back, and in so doing pose us as anthropological fictions.

KAMALA VISWESWARAN, FICTIONS OF FEMINIST ETHNOGRAPHY

I write fiction not only because I have a passion for literature, but also
because I am frustrated with history's texts and archives.

EMMA PEREZ, “QUEERING THE BORDERLANDS”

The story and the story teller both serve to connect the past with the
future, one generation with the other, the land with the people and the
people with the story. As a research tool story telling is a useful and
culturally appropriate way of representing the “diversities of truth” within
which the story teller rather than the researcher retains control.

LINDA TUHIWAI SMITH, DECOLONIZING METHODOLOGIES

In the winter of 1936, Zora Neale Hurston was in Haiti conducting research for her blurred-genre ethnography, Tell My Horse. Funded by a Guggenheim fellowship, she spent her days traveling across the country interviewing politicians, workers, and voodoo priests. Her nights were spent in an artistic fever, writing a story that had been “dammed up” inside of her since her final departure from New York earlier that year. She worked on the project intensely, often writing late into the night after a full day of collecting. At the end of seven weeks, she had completed her second novel and perhaps her greatest contribution to Black letters, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston covered some familiar ground in Their Eyes Were Watching God, returning to the scene of her first ethnographic adventure, Eatonville. But this time she ventured beyond Joe Clarke's storefront

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