Land carries tremendous meaning for liberation and continued oppression under settler colonialism and racial capitalism. As La Paperson argues, “land is a predominant concern in settler colonialism, and thus, people are arranged – raced, classed, gendered, sexualized, dis/abled, il/legalized – into triadic relations to land: the settler whose power lies in shaping the land into his wealth, the Indigenous inhabitant whose claim to land must be extinguished, and the chattel slave who must be kept landless” (2014: 116).
In this session, we seek to build on existing dialogues on the meaning of land, and its relationship to movements of resurgence and liberation led by Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities. We are interested in examining how these movements come into relationship with one another, as well as points of connection and contention that exist across the terrain of liberatory movements on stolen and occupied Indigenous lands.
A number of Indigenous scholars and activists have extensively argued that the restitution and reclamation of land is fundamental to the resurgence of Indigenous political and legal orders and bodily sovereignty (Coulthard 2014; Goeman 2017; Hunt 2015; Native Youth Sexual Health Network 2016; Simpson 2014). As Mishuana Goeman articulates, “deconstructing the discourse of property and reformulating the political vitality of a storied land means reaching back across generations, critically examining our use of the word land in the present, and reaching forward to create a healthier relationship for future generations” (2008: 24).
Equally so, land and territory (Haywood, 1948; Obadele, 1974) and space more broadly (McKittrick, 2013), have been essential to conceptions of and attempts to reinvent Black life and materialize Black liberation. As Katherine McKittrick elucidates, “the racial economy that designated the enslaved as nonbeings/nonconsumers/mechanized labor requires that the radical affirmation of black life be sought and claimed outside colonial—land-settling and land-claiming and land-exploiting and genocidal—paradigms. It follows that the reinvention of black life, and the challenge to our collective consciousness, must be engendered outside the logics of accumulation, land ownership, and profit generation” (2016: 85). Likewise, Christina Sharpe’s (2016) work draws attention to the relationship between “wake work” and intimate/communal spaces; how might communal care be built on the land, and what does it mean to care in wastelands/lands laid waste?
Given, the centrality of land to Indigenous, Black and other racialized movements for liberation, we seek to create a respectful and constructive dialogue on how land is conceptualized by such movements, and how land configures into praxes of resurgence and liberation. Following Goeman once more, we maintain that “land is a salient term and concept that can weave people together around common understandings and experiences” (2008: 23). As such, we ask: How might our complex relationships to land be bound to visions of liberation? What is the relationship to land in Indigenous, as well as Black , Latinx and other racialized ontologies, and what might be born of a dialogue on land across these ontologies? How do Indigenous, feminist and queer scholarship and activism nuance such ontologies, as well as relationships between land and liberation? How can the land/labor dialectic, which has overwhelmingly shaped theorizations of the eliminatory and exclusionary logics of settler colonialism, be nuanced through Indigenous and Black liberatory ontologies and praxes?
Further, how might dispossessed peoples’ (at times) conflicting ‘decolonial desires’ (Tuck & Yang 2012) be unearthed through dialogues of land? How do relationships to land, reimagined from settler colonial and racial capitalist standpoints, come into relationship/tension on stolen and occupied Indigenous lands? How might Indigenous conceptions of land, with all of the political implications of land restitution and reclamation included, lead to liberation by disrupting racial capitalist and settler colonial notions of property? Conversely, how may relations to space and land from “the position of the unthought” disrupt all relations to land and territory, writ large (Hartman and Wilderson, 2003)?
Coulthard, G. (2014). Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Goeman, M. (2017). Ongoing storms and struggles: Gendered violence and resource exploitation, pp. 99- 126 in Critically sovereign: Indigenous gender, sexuality, and feminist studies, edited by Joanne Barker. Durham: Duke Press.
__. (2008). From place to territories and back again: Centering storied land in the discussion of Indigenous nation-building. International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies. 1 (1) 23-34.
Hartman, S., & Wilderson III, F. (2003). “The Position of the Unthought.” Qui Parle, 13(2), 183–201.
Haywood, H. (1948). Negro liberation. New York, NY: International Publishers.
Hunt, S. (2015). Violence, law and the everyday politics of recognition. Paper presented at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), June 4-6 2015, Washington DC.
McKittrick, K. (2013). Plantation futures. Small Axe. 17(3), 1-15.
McKittrick, K. (2016). Rebellion/Invention/Groove. Small Axe, 20(149), 79-91.
Obadele, I. (1974). The Struggle of the Republic of New Africa. The Black Scholar, 32–41.
Paperson, L. (2014). A ghetto land pedagogy: An antidote for settler environmentalism. Environmental Education Research, 20(1), 115-130.
Sharpe, C. (2016). In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Duke University Press.
Simpson, L. (2014). Land as Pedagogy: Nishnaabeg Intelligence and Rebellious Transformation. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3(3): 1-25.
Tuck E and K W Yang (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, education and society 1 (1): 1-40.
Women’s Earth Alliance and Native Youth Sexual Health Network. (2016). Violence on the land, violence on our bodies: Building an Indigenous response to environmental violence. http://landbodydefense.org/uploads/files/VLVBReportToolkit2016.pdf
|Panelist||Willie Wright Department of Geography||20|
|Panelist||Michelle Daigle University of British Columbia||20|
|Panelist||Melanie Yazzie University of California - Riverside||20|
|Panelist||Yolanda Valencia University of Washington||20|
|Discussant||Margaret Ramirez University of Washington, Seattle||20|
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