Refusing (Mis)Recognition: Navigating Multiple Marginalization in the U.S. Two Spirit Movement


I focus on the discursive strategies within Two Spirit events and groups that center the definition of ‘Two Spirit’ first and foremost as an Indigenous identity by using both unifying/mass terms (Native American, glbtiq) and culturally & community specific terms (specific tribe names, Two Spirit). Rather than selecting a “right” term, such conversations highlight the constant, simultaneous positionings negotiated by Two Spirit people in their daily lives, and the tensions between recognizability and accuracy; communality and specificity; indigeneity and settler culture; and the burden multiply marginalized people carry in negotiating between all of those metaphorical and literal spaces. Drawing on Simpson’s (2014) concept of the politics of refusal, I demonstrate how Two Spirit individuals utilize available categories of identity, not as either/or binaries but rather as overlapping concepts— differentiated along micro- and macro- scales— to refuse attempts to both reduce the Two Spirit identity to one that is based either in gender or sexuality, and the appropriation of the identity and movement by non-Indigenous individuals and groups within broader national and global queer movements.


Two-Spirit; Refusal; Indigenous social movemvents

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Published : 2019-01-22

DavisJ. (2019). Refusing (Mis)Recognition: Navigating Multiple Marginalization in the U.S. Two Spirit Movement. Review of International American Studies, 12(1), 65-86.

Jenny L. Davis
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign  United States

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