Invocations of Indigeneity in the Colonial Red/White/Black Triad

Carsten Junker 1
  • 1 Institute of English and American Studies, TU Dresden, 01062 Dresden, Germany
Carsten Junker


This essay takes as its assumptive backdrop the “Red/White/Black demographic triad” in the sense of Stam and Shohat that resulted from the European colonial conquest and settlement of, and the transatlantic enslavement of Africans in, the Americas. It homes in on the ambivalent functions and effects of different evocations of Indigeneity in early abolitionist discourse, considering this very discourse as a specific strand of settler colonial knowledge production during the era of the Enlightenment. While Euro-American abolitionists around 1800 centrally and critically focused on relations between the positions marked by “Black” and “White,” they also made recourse to the position of “Red.” Paradigmatic readings highlight that abolitionists mobilized Red as a trope in contradictory ways according to their argumentative needs, substantiating the hegemonic character of White self-referential knowledge practices in the early US republic and abetting the justification of settler colonialism.

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