From Little Big Man to little green men: the captivity scenario in American culture

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This paper seeks to link the seemingly diverse genres of the Indian captivity narrative and the alien abduction scenario. Whilst the Indian captivity narrative is plainly derived from first-hand accounts and can demonstrate a historical development based on the actuality of the experiences it describes, the alien abduction scenario though protesting its objective basis cannot. Rather than rejecting the validity of the alien abduction scenario on this account, the following attempts to account for the claims to reality of the alien abduction narrative by arguing that it exists in a historical continuum with the Indian captivity narrative. The narrative functions as part of a greater historical myth system in which national values of community safety and security, national progress and vitality and the preservation of core values against hostile enemies are central components. I argue that in the twentieth century the alien abduction narrative re-imagines these core concerns and in the context of exploration of the new frontier of space, provides for a re-energizing of the traditional captivity narrative, one in which abductees are positioned as colonists in perilous existence on the ‘final frontier’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-216
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of American Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Indian
  • Captivity
  • Narrative
  • Alien
  • Frontier
  • Colonization


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