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The Polygamist’s Complexion

The Polygamist’s Complexion

or, The Book of Mormon Goes West

(p.135) 4 The Polygamist’s Complexion
Make Yourselves Gods
Peter Coviello
University of Chicago Press

This chapter considers the foundational text of Mormonism, The Book of Mormon, and scrutinizes the place of race and indigeneity in its singular narrative form. Taking up the lineaments of anti-imperial critique to be found in the work--specifically, its glancing vision of the putative heroes, the Nephites, as self-blinded imperialists--the chapter examines how precisely such an anti-imperial reading of the moral of The Book of Mormon played out in the Mormons’ ventures into the West, where it came to be routed through the Saints’ fractured identifications and disidentifications with Native peoples, the imperial United States, and their own scriptural forebears.

Keywords:   The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Henry Highland Garnet, Herman Melville, theodicy, empire, race

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