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Signs of the AmericasA Poetics of Pictography, Hieroglyphs, and Khipu$
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Edgar Garcia

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226658971

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226659169.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

Pictography, Law, and Earth

Pictography, Law, and Earth

Gerald Vizenor, John Borrows,and Louise Erdrich

Chapter:
(p.95) 3 Pictography, Law, and Earth
Source:
Signs of the Americas
Author(s):

Edgar Garcia

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226659169.003.0004

This chapter continues to explore the poetics of pictography, especially its relation to the law. It examines the uses of Anishinaabe pictography in contemporary legal contexts, challenging the notion that the law must necessarily inhere in alphabetic writing, let alone in the colonialist inscriptive norms of the nation. Explaining how pictography elicits a loosened relation between sign and signified, this chapter develops a semiotic theory of nonisomorphy to analyze uses of pictography in the work of several Anishinaabe scholars and writers: in John Borrows’s advocacy of “jurisgenerative multiperspectivalism” in Drawing Out Law, in Gerald Vizenor’s conception of social irony and ironic constitutionalism (theorizing Vizenor’s authorship of the Constitution of the White Earth Nation in 2007–8 to be coextensive with his creative uses of pictographic amphiboly in Summer in the Spring), and in Louise Erdrich’s figuration of ecological literacy and reciprocity in Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country. This chapter also engages the scholarship of Edmund Burke, Lisa Brooks, Seyla Benhabib, and Elizabeth Povinelli to argue that pictographic indeterminacy can consolidate public spheres and political communities with special ability to adjust over time, to meet present social pressures, and to negotiate inter-societal collaboration.

Keywords:   petroglyph, Anishinaabe, Ojibwe, Canada, law, constitution, community, amphiboly, environmentalism, pictography

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