This is a great question that I cannot possibly go into at the depth it deserves so let me just say a few things, aided by some comments by my spouse whose academic area of interest includes militarism and empire.
As he says: Any empire has resistance against it.
He suggests focusing your search geographically, temporally, and/or according to what aspect(s) of resistance you might want to investigate (military, ideological, religious, economic, political, language, legal traditions, cultural traditions, arts and crafts and music, and so on). One book he recommends in this more general sense is Michael Mann’s The Sources of Social Power (Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition 2012). Another general reader is EMPIReS, ed by Susan E Alcock, Terence N D’Altroy, Kathleen D Morrison, Carla M Sinopoli (Cambridge University Press, 2001) that includes articles like “Coercion, resistance, and hierarchy: local processes and imperial strategies in the Vijayanagara empire.”
I mention these two because they are on our shelves. It’s important to look for work that comes out of the indigenous population itself (although it is generally easier to find books and articles by outside academics who work within the Western university system).
Geographically and temporally one can find examples of resistance to empire from all over the world. For example the famous Rosetta Stone refers to the “Great Rebellion,” a resistance of indigenous Egyptians against their Ptolemaic rulers, over 2000 years ago. The history of the Roman Empire can be flipped and read as a history of resistance to Roman expansion, although it can be difficult to get the other side of the story since most of our records come from the Roman perspective. There was significant local resistance to the Mongol expansion (rarely successful during the initial conquest). Again, any empire wherever & whenever it might be will offer case studies depending on what sources you can get at your university library. Partly this depends (as above) on what aspect, time, or place you want to examine, so it is possible that the first thing you want to do is narrow down your subject.
Here are a few examples of academic works that we have on our shelves that are at least tangentially related to the topic. I don’t specifically suggest you use them; they are examples to give an idea of what can be found out there.
Matthew Restall’s Maya Conquistador (Beacon Press 1998) uses Maya sources to examine the conquest of the Yucatan Peninsula and regions south of central Mexico by the Spaniards. “This is more a story of survival, of a society whose vitality and complexity reconstituted itself not just in a singular post-Conquest moment but over and over again in numerous ways as it adapted to the colonial experience that was the Conquest’s outcome.” (pp xiii-xiv).
If you read a language other than the English this is written in, look for works published by in the country of origin (possibly available through Inter Library Loan) such as Lucḩa y resistencia indígena en el México colonial by Silvia Soriano Hernández (UNAM, 1994).
Mesoamerica is a good example of how the study of resistance to empire changes across time, since before the Spanish Conquest there were indigenous empires (such as the Aztecs aka the Mexica) who during their periods of expansion were resisted by other indigenous groups. For example my spouse’s dissertation is titled: A Study of the Late Postclassic Aztec-Tarascan Frontier in Northern Guerrero, México (Jay SIlverstein, The Pennsylvania State University, 2000).
I have some recent titles relating to the Caribbean and the Atlantic because of research I did for the Spiritwalker Trilogy. Indigenous Resurgence in the Contemporary Caribbean: Amerindian Survival and Revivial ed by Maximilian C Forte (Peter Lang, 2006) has a more modern focus but is quite interesting and has lots of references. Laurant DuBois’s work on revolution and emancipation (especially among slave populations) in the Caribbean and Black Atlantic is good.
I love to point people to this important essay on cultural resistance by George Kanehele on the Hawaiian Renaissance (published in May 1979):
"For if anything is worth celebrating, it is that we are still alive, that our culture has survived the onslaughts of change during the past 200 years. Indeed, not only has it survived, it is now thriving.”
Obviously indigenous resistance to colonialism is an equally large and over-lapping (but not exactly the same) subject. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz writes about colonialism in her essays (she’s doing a series for Strange Horizons).
Too often I think imperial expansion is seen (or depicted) as a set of one-way streets: The expansion out, followed some time later by the collapse in. The situation is usually far more complicated. Resistance can go on for generations and in multiple ways.
I’m sorry I haven’t been able to track down any specific references to women’s arts and crafts as forms of resistance, but if anyone has references please append them (and my thanks).
If you’re looking for modern stuff, I would imagine that you can probably find material on arts and crafts specifically as part of the construction of women as bearers of “tradition” while men were constructed as bearers of “modernity,” which is a common feature of colonial modernity as colonial nationalism takes root.
Reblogging to highlight this comment.