A mind spread out on the ground

Alicia Elliott

Book - 2020

"The Mohawk phrase for depression can be roughly translated to "a mind spread out on the ground." In this urgent and visceral work, Alicia Elliott explores how apt a description that is for the ongoing effects of personal, intergenerational, and colonial traumas she and so many Native people have experienced. Elliott's deeply personal writing details a life spent between Indigenous and white communities, a divide reflected in her own family, and engages with such wide-ranging... topics as race, parenthood, love, art, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, and representation. Throughout, she makes thrilling connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political. A national bestseller in Canada, this updated and expanded American edition helps us better understand legacy, oppression, and racism throughout North America, and offers us a profound new way to decolonize our minds."--

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Subjects
Genres
Personal narratives
Published
Brooklyn, New York : Melville House 2020.
Edition
[Updated and expanded American edition]
Language
English
Item Description
First published in 2019 by Doubleday Canada.
Physical Description
240 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9781612198668
161219866X
Main Author
Alicia Elliott (author)
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  • On seeing and being seen
  • Weight
  • The same space
  • Dark matters
  • Scratch
  • 34 grams per dose
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  • On forbidden rooms and intentional forgetting
  • Crude collages of my mother
  • Not your noble savage
  • Sontag, in snapshots: reflecting on "In Plato's Cave" in 2018
  • Extraction mentalities.
Review by Booklist Reviews

In this blend of memoir and social critique, Elliott presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of how her family and upbringing reflect a carefully constructed, capitalist, colonialist world. The daughter of a Mohawk father and a white mother, Elliott grew up low-income and moved frequently, including on and off Indigenous Canadian reservations. Her mother suffered from bipolar disorder, and her father's main treatment strategy revolved around involuntary hospitalizations. Having experienced explicit racism, inadequate access to healthy food, and disadvantages in education, Elliott here entwines her personal history with thoughtful, well-researched cultural criticism. Nothing in Elliott's life exists separately from society at large, and that's how an essay about the violent voyeurism of photography becomes a larger look at how reality television and social media turn emotional candor into currency. A piece about head lice speaks volumes about class mobility. A meditation on her father's domestic abuse becomes a harsh warning against upholding the strict dichotomies of good and evil. Nothing is one thing, but Elliott doesn't stop there. She explores exactly what would need to change to make life and society (the ultimate inextricable pair) better for the next generation. Elliott's intelligence and inquisitive reflection are humbling; her book should be required reading. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"In her raw, unflinching memoir . . . she tells the impassioned, wrenching story of the mental health crisis within her own family and community . . . A searing cry." —New York Times Book ReviewThe Mohawk phrase for depression can be roughly translated to "a mind spread out on the ground." In this urgent and visceral work, Alicia Elliott explores how apt a description that is for the ongoing effects of personal, intergenerational, and colonial traumas she and so many Native people have experienced. Elliott's deeply personal writing details a life spent between Indigenous and white communities, a divide reflected in her own family, and engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, art, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, and representation. Throughout, she makes thrilling connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political.A national bestseller in Canada, this updated and expanded American edition helps us better understand legacy, oppression, and racism throughout North America, and offers us a profound new way to decolonize our minds.