Cultural production perpetuating settler colonial relations: Cécile Heim, ‘Commodifying Tragedy: Representing Violence against Native American Women in The Cold Dish and Longmire’, Lateral, 10, 2, 2021


Abstract: By focusing on the representation of violence against Native American women in Craig Johnson’s The Cold Dish and the television show Longmire, this article demonstrates how these cultural productions perpetuate settler-colonial power relations. Although Longmire is one of the more progressive shows thanks to its development of Native American characters and storylines, the settler-colonial status quo is affirmed in four main ways. Not only do the novel and TV show redeploy the racist stock characters of the Magical Indian and the White Savior, but the TV show especially also reiterates a version of the stereotypical Vanishing American narrative inherited from the Western genre. Furthermore, both cultural productions heavily pathologize the Cheyenne community, depriving them of agency. Finally, the novel and show both transform pain, suffering, and grief into transferable commodities. This allows them to disinvest the pain and tragedy suffered by the Native American characters in order to reinvest this tragic potential in white characters, which serves to reinforce the white characters’ heroism. The commodification of tragic potential and emphasis on its sentimentalization help obscure the settler-colonial origins and systemic perpetuation of violence against Native American women. In sum, this analysis shows that the deeply ingrained and normalized settler-colonial ideology inherent to representational strategies limit the progressive potential of even the most benevolent and well-meaning white cultural productions.

%d bloggers like this: