Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead and the end of the new world

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


At the first ‘Apocalypse: Imagining the End’ Global Conference in 2012, Michael E. Harkin presented a timely paper that built on European misunderstandings of the so-called Mayan Apocalypse. Harkin provocatively argued that the cultural structure of conquest and colonisation led to more than just the projection of Christian millenarianism onto indigenous people: for him, the ‘annihilation of self and other’ has become a necessary ‘part of the practice and symbolism of the post-Columbian world.’ This paper runs with Harkin’s idea by examining the peculiar brand of millenarianism that emerges in Leslie Marmon Silko’s prophecy-novel Almanac of the Dead (1991). In this, I use Norman Cohn’s definition of millenarianism to ascertain how Silko critiques visions of the future that depend on a total break with the past and the land, particularly capitalist visions; for Silko, any such vision is hubristic and ultimately self-defeating. I go on to discuss how Silko cultivates a type of de-totalised millenarian aesthetic that prioritises connection with the past and the Earth, and which in turn opens up a discursive space for a political radicalism and environmental justice that will bring about the end of the colonial ‘New World.’
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApocalypse, revisited
Subtitle of host publicationa critical study on end times
EditorsMelis Mulazimoglu Erkal
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press/Brill
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781848883406
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Leslie Marmon Silko
  • Almanac of the Dead
  • Ceremony
  • Apocalypse
  • Millenarianism
  • Millennialism
  • Utopia
  • Totality
  • Capitalism
  • Norman Cohn


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