Embodied Liminality and Gendered State Violence: Artivist Expressions in the MMIW Movement

Rachel Presley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines four multimedia artivist artefacts at the nexus of the missing and murdered Indigenous women’s (MMIW) crisis. I position artivism as a decolonial methodology that radically alters our attunement to embodied aesthetics, contending that feminist artivists employ a radical imagination to liberate the body/body politic. Decoloniality must be an enacted praxis, and for many Indigenous feminists, creative and artistic practices provide a transformative pathway towards “making” and “living out” one’s indigeneity as knowledge and tradition-bearers. Each of the four exhibits illustrate the ways in which settler politics are narrated and resisted through and by the Indigenous body. My analysis illuminates what I theorize as an “embodied liminality” allied to Anzaldúa’s (1987) “Borderlands” and Bhabha’s (2004) “Third Space.” By articulating both feminist and decolonial forms of liminality, I explore the radical dimensions of artivism and the strategic subjugation of the liminal’s in-between threshold in which Indigenous women are traditionally relegated as “monstrous” Others. Using feminist artivism as a pathway to decolonization renders indigeneity clearly visible, such that the once-shadowy forms of its liminality are now simultaneously the protagonist and antagonist of the settler state. Building a decolonial movement against the MMIW crisis must begin with the recognition of the Indigenous body across fluid boundaries of radical resistance and critical vocabularies of aesthetic deviance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-109
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of International Women's Studies
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020. Journal of International Women’s Studies.


  • MMIW
  • artivism
  • decolonial feminism
  • gendered violence
  • liminality


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