The Return of the Native: Narratives of Ethnicity in Comtemporary Indigenous Novels

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English Language and Literature



First Advisor

Dr. Ma. Socorro Q. Perez


This paper interrogates the representation of ethnicity in two contemporary novels written by indigenous authors. Using cultural frameworks, specifically Stuart Hall and Linda Hutcheon, the study centers on how these novels appropriate the historical fiction genre in their attempt to portray the past of indigenous peoples. The paper also interrogates the portrayal of ethnic identity and examines how the narratives position themselves in their attempt to “return” to the past. The analysis reveals that the novels employ historiographic metafiction strategies that allow the novels to surface the voices of indigenous communities and forward alternative versions of history. The ethnicity forwarded by the novels is an Indigenous ethnicity which pays homage not just to common culture, characteristics and beliefs but more importantly, to the long heritage of Indigenous Peoples and their ties to their ancestral lands. It is an identity that is rooted in the past but is also constantly transforming itself in relation to external forces. For the diasporic indigene, the return to this ethnic identity is undertaken in three stages: the call to return, the remembering of the past, and the location of an ethnic identity. The articulation of this identity reflects both an essentialist and a constructivist position with the return to one’s ethnic past not a physical return but a metaphorical one where the returnee is clothed in diasporic epiphany. The novels’ authors are instances of this articulation in the representation of their respective indigenous groups as they write against the hegemonies that dominate the fields of culture and politics in the country.

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