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Vol. 5 No. 4 (2022): Critical Phenomenology, Racial Justice, and Radical Imagination

When Heads Bang Together: Creolizing and Indigenous Identities in the Americas

  • Kris F. Sealey
July 6, 2023


In her 2019 book, The Black Shoals, Tiffany Lethabo King warns that “settler colonial
discourse structures the ways that people think about and simultaneously forget . . . that
Black and Native death are intimately connected in the Western Hemisphere” (2019, xiii).
This warning is similar in spirit to Jody Byrd’s call to decenter “the vertical interactions
of colonizer and colonized” and recenter “the horizontal struggles among people with
competing claims to historical oppressions” (2011, xxxiv). What happens to the lifeways
of creolization when brought under the scrutiny of such analyses? To ask this question
differently, how might creolization, as a theory of Afro-diasporic experiences shaped
in histories of chattel slavery, displacement and migration, working against structures
of anti-blackness, approach a vigilance for what Lorraine Le Camp (1998) names the
“terranullism” —a Doctrine of Discovery world-orientation that reads land to be colonized
as either vacant or all but vacated of civilized human communities—that grounds much of
settler colonial discourse?