Current and Forthcoming Books

Current Books

Defiant Indigeneity
The Politics of Hawaiian Performance
Stephanie Nohelani Teves
Published April 2018

“Aloha” is at once the most significant and the most misunderstood word in the Indigenous Hawaiian lexicon. For Kānaka Maoli people, the concept of “aloha” is a representation and articulation of their identity, despite its misappropriation and commandeering by non-Native audiences in the form of things like the “hula girl” of popular culture. Considering the way aloha is embodied, performed, and interpreted in Native Hawaiian literature, music, plays, dance, drag performance, and even ghost tours from the twentieth century to the present, Stephanie Nohelani Teves shows that misunderstanding of the concept by non-Native audiences has not prevented the Kānaka Maoli from using it to create and empower community and articulate its distinct Indigenous meaning.

While Native Hawaiian artists, activists, scholars, and other performers have labored to educate diverse publics about the complexity of Indigenous Hawaiian identity, ongoing acts of violence against Indigenous communities have undermined these efforts. In this multidisciplinary work, Teves argues that Indigenous peoples must continue to embrace the performance of their identities in the face of this violence in order to challenge settler-colonialism and its efforts to contain and commodify Hawaiian Indigeneity.

For purchasing information, visit the UNC Press website at


The Sound of Navajo Country
Music, Language, and Diné Belonging
Kristina M. Jacobsen
Published March 2017

In this ethnography of Navajo (Diné) popular music culture, Kristina M. Jacobsen examines questions of Indigenous identity and performance by focusing on the surprising and vibrant Navajo country music scene. Through multiple first-person accounts, Jacobsen illuminates country music’s connections to the Indigenous politics of language and belonging, examining through the lens of music both the politics of difference and many internal distinctions Diné make among themselves and their fellow Navajo citizens.

As the second largest tribe in the United States, the Navajo have often been portrayed as a singular and monolithic entity. Using her experience as a singer, lap steel player, and Navajo language learner, Jacobsen challenges this notion, showing the ways Navajos distinguish themselves from one another through musical taste, linguistic abilities, geographic location, physical appearance, degree of Navajo or Indian blood, and class affiliations. By linking cultural anthropology to ethnomusicology, linguistic anthropology, and critical Indigenous studies, Jacobsen shows how Navajo poetics and politics offer important insights into the politics of Indigeneity in Native North America, highlighting the complex ways that identities are negotiated in multiple, often contradictory, spheres.

For purchasing information, visit the UNC Press website at

Forthcoming Books

Coming November 2018!
Indigenous Cosmolectics
Kab’awil and the Making of Maya and Zapotec Literatures
Gloria E. Chacón

Latin America’s Indigenous writers have long labored under the limits of colonialism, but in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, they have constructed a literary corpus that moves them beyond those parameters. Gloria E. Chacón considers the growing number of contemporary Indigenous writers who turn to Maya and Zapotec languages alongside Spanish translations of their work to challenge the tyranny of monolingualism and cultural homogeneity. Chacón argues that these Maya and Zapotec authors reconstruct an Indigenous literary tradition rooted in an Indigenous cosmolectics, a philosophy originally grounded in pre-Columbian sacred conceptions of the cosmos, time, and place, and now expressed in creative writings. More specifically, she attends to Maya and Zapotec literary and cultural forms by theorizing kab’awil as an Indigenous philosophy. Tackling the political and literary implications of this work, Chacón argues that Indigenous writers’ use of familiar genres alongside Indigenous language, use of oral traditions, and new representations of selfhood and nation all create space for expressions of cultural and political autonomy.

Chacón recognizes that Indigenous writers draw from universal literary strategies but nevertheless argues that this literature is a vital center for reflecting on Indigenous ways of knowing and is a key artistic expression of decolonization.

For purchasing information, visit the UNC Press website at


Coming Spring 2019!
Sovereign Entrepreneurs
Cherokee Small-Business Owners and the Making of Economic Sovereignty
Courtney Lewis

When many people think of Indigenous-owned businesses, they stop with casinos or natural-resource intensive enterprises. But the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) has an especially long history of incorporated, citizen-owned businesses located on their reservation, Qualla Boundary. Indigenous entrepreneurship and economic independence extends to art galleries, restaurants, a bookstore, a funeral parlor, and more.  Courtney Lewis’s rich ethnographic work follows these businesses before and after the Great Recession, and against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding Cherokee-owned casino. Lewis reveals how these EBCI businesses have contributed to an economic sovereignty that empowers and sustains their nation both culturally and politically.


Coming Spring 2019!
Indians on the Move
Native American Mobility and Urbanization in the Twentieth Century
Douglas K. Miller

When the Bureau of Indian Affairs terminated its 20-year-old Voluntary Relocation Program in 1972, many groups—from government leaders to Red Power activists to the general public—had already classified it as a total failure. In this book, Doug Miller challenges and complicates this judgment, offering a new interpretation of urban relocation by situating it in the larger context of Indigenous mobility. While recognizing the influence of a strengthening settler state, Miller argues that a much richer story needs telling. Through oral histories, relocation applications, tribal records, and employment assistance case files, Miller portrays urban relocation as a product of Indigenous people’s ambitions to free themselves from the cultural, economic, physical, and intellectual limits of the reservation.


More forthcoming books in the series

Shannon Speed (UCLA) on violence against Indigenous women migrants in the age of neoliberalism

Juliana Hu Pegues (Minnesota) on Indigeneity, race, and gender in American Alaska