Law, language, and land: A multimethod analysis of the general allotment act and its discourses

Adrea Lawrence, Brec Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study emerges from a professional development workshop the authors conducted with elementary, middle, and high school teachers. The article highlights of responses of workshop participants, particularly their response that the law was about assimilation, in the context of The General Allotment Act of 1887 and the Hopi Indian response to it. This article investigates that claim by pairing critical dialogist and poststructural analyses. Through the critical dialogist's tools of microanalysis-meaning fields and reconstructive horizon analyses-the authors uncover possible explicit and implicit assumptions of the General Allotment Act and the Hopi response. The authors then employ a macrolevel poststructural analysis using the analytic frames of governmentality and performativity to interrogate the discursive assumptions underwriting the law and its framers' failure to acknowledge the polyvocality of American Indian groups. By coupling the critical dialogist and poststructural analytic techniques, the authors produce a comprehensive critique that problematizes the narrative of assimilation and develops new means of historical analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-229
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • American Indian
  • Critical
  • Dialogist
  • History
  • Policy
  • Poststructural


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