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Open Access Neither One Thing Nor the Other: Discursive Polyvalence and Representations of Amerindian Women in the Jesuit Relations

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Neither One Thing Nor the Other: Discursive Polyvalence and Representations of Amerindian Women in the Jesuit Relations

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This article confirms what others have argued about the bifurcated representation of Amerindian women in the Jesuit Relations (aggressive, insubordinate, prideful, and licentious on the one hand and docile, obedient, humble, and chaste, on the other) but extends the analysis of gendered discourse at work in the text to argue that the Relations persist in characterizing both types of Amerindian women as virile in excess of the limits of prescribed femininity. Attention to the stubborn persistence of the virile in Jesuit representations of Amerindian women suggests that the encounter between French Jesuit gender norms and the gendered ideals native to the indigenous populations of colonial Canada is best understood as an encounter between a range of competing discourses about gender and gestures toward a polyvalence of gendered discourses at play in colonial texts more generally.

Affiliations: 1: St. Louis University mdunn12@slu.edu

This article confirms what others have argued about the bifurcated representation of Amerindian women in the Jesuit Relations (aggressive, insubordinate, prideful, and licentious on the one hand and docile, obedient, humble, and chaste, on the other) but extends the analysis of gendered discourse at work in the text to argue that the Relations persist in characterizing both types of Amerindian women as virile in excess of the limits of prescribed femininity. Attention to the stubborn persistence of the virile in Jesuit representations of Amerindian women suggests that the encounter between French Jesuit gender norms and the gendered ideals native to the indigenous populations of colonial Canada is best understood as an encounter between a range of competing discourses about gender and gestures toward a polyvalence of gendered discourses at play in colonial texts more generally.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22141332-00302001
2016-03-01
2018-09-24

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