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ERIC Number: EJ911364
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 29
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
Speaking Sovereignty and Communicating Change: Rhetorical Sovereignty and the Inaugural Exhibits at the NMAI
King, Lisa
American Indian Quarterly, v35 n1 p75-103 Win 2011
In this article, the author argues that if the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) wishes to make a communicable assertion of cultural sovereignty that avoids speaking something not intended to its audiences, then the very act of communication--the rhetorical frame itself--must be examined. This is not to argue for pandering to non-Native audiences. But in order to learn from, refine, and strengthen this highly rhetorical and sovereign endeavor, the NMAI bears reexamination in those terms. With this in mind, the author uses Scott Richard Lyons's sense of "rhetorical sovereignty" to analyze the NMAI's three inaugural exhibits in order to reveal in sharper detail the range of rhetorical change that Native peoples are setting in motion at the NMAI as well as the potential communicative ambiguities produced by reshaping museum structures for Native rhetorical purposes (i.e., asserting cultural sovereignty) in the presence of non-Native audiences. Like Amanda J. Cobb's sense of cultural sovereignty, rhetorical sovereignty functions to articulate the act of Native peoples taking control of an institution and redefining it along Native lines. But what rhetorical sovereignty also recognizes is that sovereignty is also an act of communication, and communication requires addressing communicative goals, selected means of communication, and the anticipated audiences. The author first provides a brief discussion describing the concept of rhetorical sovereignty as defined by Lyons; second, she offers a short overview of the past rhetorical patterns and the consequent expectations produced by museums regarding Native peoples; finally, she demonstrates the workings and complications of enacting rhetorical sovereignty using the three inaugural exhibits of the NMAI. (Contains 34 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A