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The Noble Savage Was a Drag Queen: Hybridity and Transformation in Kent Monkman's Performance and ... - page 19 / 19

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As Homi Bhabha writes, freedom for those marginalized by colonization exists through

the creation of new hybrid spaces beyond the confines, constructs, and definitions created

by the colonizers. Freedom is the act of creating and existing in a place beyond

definitions, beyond black and white, somewhere in the blurry space beyond the culturally

safe margins of identity. Sexuality and its many taboos are nothing more than imaginary

constructs that are given codes and rules as a method to enforce power. Names, rules,

and acceptance levels change according to the dominant ideology of a specific time and

place. In this way, something that was once a source of pride can easily become a site of

shame, as in the case of non-heterosexuality under Christianity. Monkman refuses to

accept the Christian constructs that were established and reinforced by colonial rule, and

continue to deny and suppress the once-celebrated sexual diversity within Native tribes.

Through his visual and performance art, Monkman successfully creates a third space,

where a time-traveling half-breed drag queen can take ownership over her history and

sexual identity. From this position, the margins are the center, and the power of definition

belongs to the once-marginalized. In creating this space, Monkman acknowledges the

rightful place of the Two-Spirited person in traditional history, and encourages discourse

that reflects on and amends the loss of Native sexuality through Christian imperialism.

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