What is it about?

Given the upsurge in interest in the Alamo Cenotaph because of its high visibility in the Alamo Plaza, this essay investigates the racial politics of the Alamo by focusing on the Alamo Cenotaph. In this essay, I argue how certain material-cultural sites, like the Alamo, root present-day settler land discourses to the past to project white settler life into a viable political future. Expanding on Adam Barker’s term “necro-settlement,” I offer necro-settler coloniality as a critical framework that reveals what settler coloniality would otherwise make opaque. With necro-settler coloniality, I seek to draw greater attention to the afterlives of colonialism in deathscapes like the Alamo. I propose to include the study of conventionally understood, non-literary objects in fields devoted to literary and cultural studies as one way to enact a decolonial epistemological project that holds everyone accountable to a decolonial future rather than a settler past. Ultimately, I argue that the possibility of once and for all forgetting the Alamo depends on holding white supremacy accountable and attending to the intersecting power structures that exist at such sites.

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Why is it important?

What a necro-decolonial horizon could provide is the right to bury. To bury the dead, or in this case, a cenotaph and the accompanying connotations that stick to it, would lay to rest the resurrected spirits of the Alamo defenders—or Confederate soldiers—and, in doing so, would displace claims to land that are founded on the memorialization of noncorporeal bodies. At stake is the Alamo, but more broadly this issue is present wherever there exists a settler deathscape. Can such moments of settler or racial tragedy/trauma converted into sacred state history be reconverted and thus buried and footnoted? Can these moments be delinked from state-sanctioned/white supremacist power structures? After all this time can we, as Pilar Cruz from John Sayle’s film Lone Star proposes, forget the Alamo?

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This page is a summary of: Necro-Settler Coloniality in Texan Mythology and Identity: Forgetting the Alamo, Western American Literature, September 2022, Project Muse,
DOI: 10.1353/wal.2022.0042.
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