Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

The Third Space of Sovereignty

The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.–Indigenous Relations

2007
Author:

Kevin Bruyneel

The Third Space of Sovereignty

The struggle between indigenous resistance and American colonialism—within its own borders

The Third Space of Sovereignty offers fresh insights on such topics as the end of treaty-making in 1871, U.S. citizenship in the 1920s, native politics during the civil rights era, and the current issues surrounding casinos. Kevin Bruyneel shows how native political actors have effectively contested the limits that the United States has imposed on their ability to develop economically and politically on their own terms.

Stunning and provocative. Seen from the border, where Native Americans are neither fully citizens nor independent nations, many settled categories of American political development dissolve. Students of state building, social movements, and constitutional development will find a compelling narrative, which challenges us to rethink canonical distinctions in productive ways.

Gerald Berk, University of Oregon

The imposition of modern American colonial rule has defined U.S.–indigenous relations since the time of the American Civil War. In resistance, Kevin Bruyneel asserts, indigenous political actors work across American spatial and temporal boundaries, demanding rights and resources from the government while also challenging the imposition of colonial rule over their lives. This resistance engenders what he calls a “third space of sovereignty,” which resides neither inside nor outside the U.S. political system but rather exists on its boundaries, exposing both the practices and limitations of American colonial rule.

The Third Space of Sovereignty offers fresh insights on such topics as the crucial importance of the formal end of treaty-making in 1871, indigenous responses to the prospect of U.S. citizenship in the 1920s, native politics during the tumultuous civil rights era of the 1960s, the question of indigenousness in the special election of California’s governor in 2003, and the current issues surrounding gaming and casinos.

In this engaging and provocative work, Bruyneel shows how native political actors have effectively contested the narrow limits that the United States has imposed on indigenous people’s ability to define their identity and to develop economically and politically on their own terms.

The Third Space of Sovereignty

Stunning and provocative. Seen from the border, where Native Americans are neither fully citizens nor independent nations, many settled categories of American political development dissolve. Students of state building, social movements, and constitutional development will find a compelling narrative, which challenges us to rethink canonical distinctions in productive ways.

Gerald Berk, University of Oregon

Bruyneel richly documents US schizophrenic policy vacillations between imperialism and liberal democratic values.

Choice

The Third Space of Sovereignty is a valuable theoretical consideration that presents new models for understanding both Native agency and the inconsistencies of colonial policy. It will augment the growing body of literature that no longer perverts American exceptionalism to cast U.S. domestic colonialism as somehow sanitarily distinct from the complexities and injustices that plague other settler societies in Africa, Oceania, and elsewhere.

The Journal of American History

I was challenged to disrupt and reexamine my understandings of the postcolonial, the anticolonial, and the decolonial, as well as being reawakened to the analytical importance of borders and boundaries. Kevin Bruyneel adds to our vocabulary with his ‘precise concept,’ enabling us to better discuss, describe, and imagine the complex relationships between Indigenous peoples and settler-states.

Julie A. Pelletier, Studies in American Indian Literature

This work reads as a masterful, if only partial, list of indigenous people’s, intellectuals’, politicians’, and society’s views on sovereignty as the term is used and co-opted by different groups in myriad time periods and arenas. The book is an excellent history of ideas, laws, and political development around the issue of sovereignty, but also demands an alternative mechanism for looking at sovereignty via the third space.

Western Historical Quarterly

An extremely cogent and thought-provoking piece of scholarship that charts new territory in the literature. . . . The Third Space of Sovereignty will surely stand as a model for interdisciplinary theorizing about indigenous politics and nationhood.

Ethnohistory

Bruyneel reveals the cultural and historical underpinnings of American Indian policies, unveils complex social relationships and understandings, and brings policy to life for students in a way that surprises and engages them.

Minnesota Women’s Press

Bruyneel shines as a theorist and historian of policy and subaltern/Indigenous political writing.

Wicazo Sa Review

About This Book