Nádleeh and Trickster: Accounting for the Absence of Non-Binary Genders in Foucault’s History of Sexuality


  • Jess Bennett Scientia et Humanitas


From a theoretical standpoint, queer sexual categories remain in the wake of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality.  However, Foucault’s work in the three volumes of The History of Sexuality primarily focus on a gender binary of male and female.  One may find this logical under the false assumption that gender-fluid categories are a recent advent, but such an as-sumption excludes figures such as the Native American berdache, a third gender category.  To complicate matters further, this gender identity is not set to a fixed sexual preference.  Native American literature that explores both the gender and sexual fluidity of the berdache includes texts such as the Navajo creation myth as told by Irvin Morris in From the Glittering World and a selection from “The Winnebago Trickster Cycle” recorded in Paul Radin’s The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology.  Through a comparative reading of these texts as well as Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, we see how Foucault’s work could be expanded by incorporating a discussion of non-binary genders.  Ultimately, this project explores the gap of gender difference in Foucault’s work by examining the role of the berdache in Native American society and literature.