Michelle Raheja

Michelle Raheja

Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of Chicago


Professor Raheja’s area of research is Native American literature, with a special interest in autobiography and film and visual culture. Her training and teaching cover all periods and genres of American literature up to the present, with a special emphasis on literature covering the period from oral narrative to 1630, autobiography, comparative minority discourses, critical race theory, and film and visual culture.

In 2005-2006, Raheja was invited to Oberlin College as part of the Indigenous Women’s Series to present a lecture entitled, “’Molly Spotted Elk is a Dancer… But She Also Knows How to Punch a Typewriter’: Gender, (Auto)Biography, Race & Performance.” She also presented “(Northern) Lights, (Hand-held) Camera, (Ethnographic) Action: Filming the Arctic,” an invited talk at Sarai: The New Media Initiative in Delhi, India, and “John Ford’s Indian Fighters: An Introduction to She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” an invited talk at the Hollywood and the Cavalry Exhibit at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. Her most current publications include “’I leave it to the people of the United States to say’: Autobiographical Disruptions in the Personal Narratives of Black Hawk and Ely S. Parker,” in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal (Vol. 30, No. 1, 2006) and “Reading Nanook’s Smile: Atanarjuat/The Fast Runner, Visual Sovereignty, and the Persistence of Ethnography” (accepted for publication by the American Quarterly).

Her book manuscript, Reservation Reelism: Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film, is under contract with the University of Nebraska Press and explores the personal narratives and visual aesthetics of indigenous actors, entertainers, and filmmakers from the inception of the motion picture industry in the United States and Canada to the present. She is also co-editing two anthologies: Pretending to Be Me: Ethnic Transvestism and Cross-Writing with Joe Lockard and Melinda Micco and Red Rhythms: Contemporary Methodologies in American Indian Dance with Jacqueline Shea Murphy. Raheja’s research has been supported by an Institute of American Cultures/American Indian Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA, the Center for Ideas and Society at UCR, and the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History/Lannan Foundation.

On campus she serves on the executive committee of the Film and Visual Culture Program and has co-organized two major conferences, Filmmaking @ the Margins: A Film Symposium and Red Rhythms: Contemporary Methodologies in American Indian Dance.