Culture Politics: The Story of Native Land Claims in Alaska by Kirk Dombrowski

This book traces the history of indigenous land claims in Southeast Alaska. Based on three years of residence and over two decades of research and writing, Culture Politics lays out how Native land claims in Alaska came about, and why they have proven so divisive for many Alaska Native communities. Reframing and going beyond Dombrowski’s earlier book, Against Culture, the current volume looks in depth at the trials and tribulations of subsistence hunters and fishers in villages like Hydaburg, Kake, Klawock, and Hoonah. Each of these communities has faced the same onslaught of timber harvesting and the collapse of the local fishery. Some have grown as a result, while others have shrunk. And some have spawned radical Pentecostal churches that have taken a stance against Native culture.

Reactions like these are surprising, more so when they are most stridently advocated by Natives themselves. This book describes why this is so, and traces these processes back to the Land Claims process itself. Culture Politics is aimed at both popular and academic audiences. While the social and political processes it describes are complex, the language of the text is intended for ordinary adult readers. Those interested in Native American affairs, the history of Alaska, or the effect of environmental development on northern communities will find much to appreciate in this compelling, first-hand telling of life on the edge of America.

Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Syron Design Academic Publishing (January 8, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0615950418
ISBN-13: 978-0615950419



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Reviews of Dombrowski’s last book on Alaska:

“Dombrowski’s ethnography provides a timely intervention for developing a comparative understanding of liberal state interventions in the sphere of indigenous rights. He provides us with a nuanced understanding of the post-colonial world of indigenous peoples in his study of the Tlingit and Haida of southeast Alaska today. . . . This ethnography deserves to be read widely. It is most powerful in dealing with the internal fractures evident in indigenous communities, but does not ignore the interplay that exists between legislative processes, the exigencies of market forces, and the legacies of over-exploited finite resources.”

—Barry Morris, Australian Journal of Anthropology (Barry Morris Australian Journal of Anthropology )


“Well written and based on diligent research, the book will appeal to anyone interested in contemporary Native American issues. [Recommended for] all levels and collections.”

—Choice (Choice )


“Anyone who has attempted to sort out the intricacies of Native American Sovereignty movements or more generally, the nuances of Federal-Indian law, will immediately appreciate Dombrowski’s trenchant formulations, the hallmark quality of which is a penetrating analysis of the ways that nativism and world capitalism are neither wholly separate nor wholly antagonistic but, rather, frequently connected and interdependent in surprising and unsettling ways.”

—Greg Johnson, The Journal of Religion (The Journal of Religion )


“Against Culture is most productively surprising in the multiple ways the analysis grows beyond both its theoretical origins and its ethnography, to become widely useful, particularly for the development of new ways of understanding indigenous peoples’ continuing histories.”

—Gerald Sider, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


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