American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



This thesis advances a critical understanding of the ways in which neoliberal multiculturalism works to naturalize settler colonialism in the United States through the queer, feminist, and decolonial use of visual, historical, and legal analysis. The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) of 2010, as well as the White House signing ceremony for the TLOA serve as the main sites for this analysis. The central argument of the thesis is that multiculturalism in the United States facilitates the ongoing naturalization of settler prerogatives and that Barack Obama, through his deployment of affect and analogy, is especially effective at normalizing multicultural settler domination of colonized lands and peoples. Subtending this argument are arguments about how settler colonialism is maintained through the use of sexual violence against Indigenous people and through heteronormativity, which must be continuously enforced. The thesis, therefore, interrogates the effects of the settler state's gestures toward Indigenous women and sexual violence in the TLOA and the TLOA signing ceremony. The bulk of the evidence for the thesis comes from secondary historical sources, the genealogy of laws that constitutes Federal Indian Policy in the United States, and original legal analysis of the TLOA and the TLOA Congressional Hearings, as well as original visual and discourse analyses of the TLOA signing ceremony.




"Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009, Neoliberal Multiculturalism, Settler Colonialism

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Amy L. Brandzel

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Nez Denetdale

Third Committee Member

Alyosha Goldstein