David W. Samuels

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20002001 Forum on Style

David W. Samuels


Indeterminacy and Identity: Style, Place, and Historical Imagination on the San Carlos Apache Reservation

Dr. Samuels confronts a cultural paradox--that people often use ambiguously situated and contradictory expressive resources to craft what we, perhaps too easily, call "identity." Indeed, on Arizona's San Carlos Apache reservation, the position of ambiguity and indeterminacy is crucial in the negotiation of contempo-rary identities, as Dr. Samuels will argue in a book he is writing on the contemporary linguistic, musical, and other expressive practices on the reservation. San Carlos Apache "style" is not a simple matter of tracing the continuity of elements of "heritage." Rather, much like marginalized communities everywhere, people on the reservation participate in their identities, in part, by uprooting and challenging the naturalized "meaning" of the dominant mainstream's signs. This includes such practices as using country and rock music in ways that forge a deeply felt sense of connection with the Apache community's historical past, as well as numerous language games that deliberately deform the naturalized referential meanings of English.