When bodies become battlegrounds of the state: Indigenous women's fight for bodily autonomy
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Indigenous women have been struggling for control over their own bodies since the settlers arrived in the Americas. Rampant forced sterilization practices during the 1970s were one way in which the colonizing population stripped Indigenous women of their bodily autonomy in the hopes of controlling not only the reproduction of Indigenous women, but the rights of the entire Indigenous population. Black women have also been subjected to systemic and racist efforts of the state to seek control over their bodies, and by extension, their entire race. Due to this perceived similarity of governmental efforts to control their bodies, it is possible to analyze scholarship written about Black women's bodies and determine its applicability for thinking about Indigenous women's bodies. This project performs a literary analysis of two texts – Radhika Mohanram's Black Body: Women, Colonialism, and Space and Jennifer Griffiths' Traumatic Possessions: The Body and Memory in African American Women's Writing and Performance – in order to determine how literature and theory written about Black women's bodies can be useful in considering Indigenous women's experiences with bodily control by the state. By performing this type of transnational literary analysis, it will be possible to develop new and revolutionary ways of thinking about the relationship Indigenous women have to their bodies, including how Indigenous women currently continue the fight to achieve complete control over their bodies. Although it will be difficult to achieve, it may be possible for Indigenous women, as well as all other women of color, to one day be free of the restraints the state has forced upon them and their bodies.