Mojica’s Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots and Van Kirk’s Many Tender Ties

February 12, 2010 at 11:41 am (Multicultural Lit)

These two selections of reading are very interesting in comparison to one another, because they present the reader not so much an “authentic” history of women in the Americas, as two modern strategies for dealing with a legacy of women in the colonial sphere.

Mojica uses a technique that draws on native traditions of story-telling, but also draws on aspects of post-modern and feminist narrative and theater. She has 13 transformations in her play “Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots,” which she links to the 13 yearly lunar cycles, but the way in which she sets up the play, with multiple actors playing different characters, and using the contradictions inherent in that to call relationships into question is also a move that is seen in other feminist and postmodern drama, like Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud Nine.”

Van Kirk on the other hand, is creating an academically engaged history of women in the fur trade. Like Mojica, she is trying to get her readers to think about and understand the role of women in a new way, but the way she goes about it is in a traditional framework of the academic monograph. This means that she feels to the need to engage with and, in some cases, combat the official history of the fur trade that has been written for and about white men. Van Kirk is engaged with the feminist struggle, but not in the activist way, or in the postmodern way that Mojica is. I was actually more interested by Van Kirk’s work, but I think that is probably a relic of my own personal history growing up in the Pacific Northwest with historically inclined parents. I think pairing these works together however, makes them more interesting than either one might have been separately because it shows that our historical past is under consideration and re-evaluation, not just in one way, but in multiple ways.

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