Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
As a white scholar of American Indian autobiographies, I approached this collection of essays edited by Devon A. Mihesuah, Associate Professor of History at Northern Arizona University, with both anticipation and trepidation. Conversations about the place of white scholars in all areas of ethnic studies has crested again recently and is appearing in many academic journals. In the May 1998, PMLA (113.3), the Guest Column by Nellie Y. McKay, Professor of American and African American Literature at University of Wisconsin, Madison, states that too many qualified white scholars are not being asked to fill positions, which results in African American Literature either not being taught at all or by being taught but by unqualified professors already on staff. McKay is concerned about this situation, stating that there is "nothing mystical about African American literature that makes it the sole property of those of African descent" (366). Similarly, Louis Owens tells John Purdy in an interview published in the Summer 1998 Studies in American Indian Literatures (10.2): "I don't have any patience at all with the essentialist attitudes that say non-Indians shouldn't read things [written] by Indians or talk about Indian literature or whatever" (16).
Copyright ©ESR, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1998