Mark Rifkin

Contact Information

Office: Curry 343
Office Phone: 336-334-4323
At UNCG Since: 2008


Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania-2003
M.A. University of Pennsylvania-1999
B.A. Rutgers University-1996

Research Interests

Dr. Rifkin’s research primarily focuses on Native American writing and politics from the eighteenth century onward, exploring the ways that Indigenous peoples have negotiated U.S. racial and imperial formations. In particular, he is interested in how U.S. law shapes the possibilities for representing Native political identity and the ways that Native writers have worked to inhabit, refunction, refuse, and displace dominant administrative formulations in order to open room for envisioning and enacting self-determination. More recently, he has been drawing on queer theory to rethink the role kinship systems have played in Native governance and internationalism and to address the ways U.S. imperialism can be thought of as a system of compulsory heterosexuality.

Selected Publications

  • Settler Common Sense: Queerness and Everyday Colonialism in the American Renaissance, University of Minnesota Press, 2014.
  • The Erotics of Sovereignty: Queer Native Writing in the Era of Self-Determination, University of Minnesota Press, 2012.
  • When Did Indians Become Straight?: Kinship, The History of Sexuality, and Native Sovereignty, Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Sexuality, Nationality, Indigeneity: Rethinking the State at the Intersection of Native American and Queer Studies (special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, co-edited with Daniel Heath Justice and Bethany Schneider, 16.1-2, 2010).
  • Manifesting America: The Imperial Construction of U.S. National Space, Oxford University Press, 2009.


  • "The Silence of Ely S. Parker: The Emancipation Sublime and the Limits of Settler Memory," Native American and Indigenous Studies (forthcoming 2014).
  • "Queering Indigenous Pasts, or Temporalities of Tradition and Settlement," Oxford Companion to Indigenous American Literatures.  Eds. Daniel Heath Justice and James Cox. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 137-151.
  • "Making Peoples into Populations: The Racial Limits of Tribal Sovereignty," Theorizing Native Studies, eds. Audra Simpson and Andrea Smith, Duke University Press, 2014. 149-187.
  • "The Frontier as (Movable) Space of Exception, " Settler Colonial Studies 4.2 (2014): 176-180.
  • "Settler Common Sense," Settler Colonial Studies 3.4 (2013): 322-340.
  • "Shadows of Mashantucket: William Apess and the Representation of Pequot Place," American Literature 84.4 (2012): 691-714.
  • "The Transatlantic Indian Problem," American Literary History 24.2 (2012): 337-355.
  • "Settler States of Feeling: National Belonging and the Erasure of Native American Presence," Blackwell Companion to American Literary Studies, eds. Robert Levine and Caroline Levander.  New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.  342-355.
  • "The Erotics of Sovereignty," in Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature.  Eds. Qwo-Li Driskill, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley, and Scott Morgensen.  Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011.  172-189.
  • "Remapping the Family of Nations: The Geopolitics of Kinship in Hendrick Aupaumut’s 'A Short Narration'," Studies in American Indian Literature 22.4 (2010): 1-31.
  • "Indigenizing Agamben: Rethinking Sovereignty in Light of the ‘Peculiar’ Status of Native Peoples," Cultural Critique 72 (Fall 2009): 88-124.
  • "'For the wrongs of our poor bleeding country': Sensation, Class, and Empire in Ridge’s Joaquín Murieta," Arizona Quarterly 65.2 (2009): 27-56.
  • "Native Nationality and the Contemporary Queer: Tradition, Sexuality, and History in Drowning in Fire," American Indian Quarterly 32.4 (2008): 443-470.
  • "Documenting Tradition: Territoriality and Textuality in Black Hawk’s Narrative," American Literature 80.4 (2008): 677-705.
  • "Debt and the Transnationalization of Hawai`i," American Quarterly 60.1 (2008): 43-66.

  • "'A home made sacred by protecting laws’: Black Activist Homemaking and Geographies of Citizenship in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl," differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 18.2 (2007): 72-102.
  • "Romancing Kinship: A Queer Reading of Indian Education and Zitkala-Sa’s American Indian Stories," GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 12.1 (2006): 27-59.

  • "Representing the Cherokee Nation: Subaltern Studies and Native American Sovereignty," boundary 2 32.3 (2005): 47-80.

Awards and Honors

  • Best Subsequent Book in Native American and Indigenous Studies for 2011 (for When Did Indians Become Straight?), Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, 2013.
  • John Hope Franklin Prize for best book in American Studies for 2011 (for When Did Indians Become Straight?), American Studies Association, 2012.

  • Regular Faculty Grant, UNCG, 2012.
  • Summer Excellence Research Award, UNCG, 2012.
  • Best Special Issue, award from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals for Sexuality, Nationality, Indigeneity, 2010.
  • Don D. Walker Award for the Best Essay in Western American Literary Studies for “Documenting Tradition: Territoriality and Textuality in Black Hawk’s Narrative,” Western Literature Association, 2008.
  • New Faculty Grant, UNCG, 2009.
  • Faculty Development Grant, Skidmore College, 2006
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, University of Chicago, 2004-2005
  • Diane Hunter Dissertation Prize, English Department, University of Pennsylvania, 2004


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