Indigenous gender diversity, sexual colonialization and Two-Spirit in North America
Gender roles in many North American Indigenous Nations were task defined, meaning that one’s predominant occupation and performance of a social role were decisive, contrary to the hegemonic European understanding where gender was equated with biological sex.
Many Indigenous Nations had a non-binary understanding of gender prior to colonization, which still lives on in the contemporary pan-Indigenous concept of Two Spirit. Gender diversity traditions in Indigenous societies declined rapidly through Christianization and sexual colonization that subjected Indigenous societies to heteropatriarchy and heteronormativity as providing grounds for settler colonialism’s biopolitics.
However, a complete erasure was never successful as the (new) category of Two Spirit shows. In this talk, Lena Gross will look into pre-colonial gender diversity among Indigenous Nations and the effect of colonialization on North American society today.
Image: A Bentwood box. This bentwood box, constructed by the Coast Salish artist Luke Marston from a single piece of red cedar, was carved to represent First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures. Items symbolizing personal healing