Rethinking Race through the Alaska Example: Pseudo-speciation, Dehumanization, and Erasure

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 3:50 PM
Virginia Suite C (Marriott Wardman Park)
Jordan Craddick, University of Washington
When Europeans first arrived in Alaska in the 1700s they classified the indigenous peoples they encountered in crude terms generally consistent with barbarity. While there has since been academic interest as to whether such classifications constituted racism or ethnocentrism the function of said classifications has consistently been overlooked. In this paper I will contend that regardless of terminology around race or ethnocentrism, the classifications assigned to Alaska Natives were meant to dehumanize them and set them apart as a pseudo-species. As part of this dehumanizing process, Europeans implemented biologically deterministic rules based on paternal lineage in order to break-down and ultimately erase indigeneity. Historically, this will be demonstrated through the creolization that followed Russia’s invasion into Alaska post 1732 with their legacy continuing through the 1867 U.S. takeover and the onset of blood quantum guidelines.