Contingency and Emancipatory Politics in the Ongoing Construction of Settler Colonial Landscapes

Authors: Guillaume Proulx*, Universite Du Quebec a Montreal, Nicholas Crane*, University of Wyoming
Topics: Cultural Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Settler colonialism, Landscape, Hegemony, Extraction, Emancipatory politics, North America
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Truman, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Settler colonialism is an ongoing process of naturalizing settler sovereignty, which has been enacted in the Americas since the invasion of the continent by European settlers. People enrolled in settler colonial projects discursively reproduce the apparent universality of ideological constructs that promote the interests of a small elite in the name of wider groups (e.g., the nation). This universalization facilitates dispossession of Indigenous land and the construction of white-dominated nation-states. In this presentation, we identify political opportunities in the ongoingness of settler colonialism through attention to this hegemonic process around oil and gas infrastructure projects across North America and its contingent materialization in tangible landscape forms. Our analysis emphasizes the unfinishedness of settler colonialism and suggests potential for the construction of emancipatory hegemonic blocs from experiences of place-based violence. We show that settler colonial landscapes are being constructed and given shape only ever in relation to interruption and collective contestation. To recognize that the realization of infrastructure projects is contingent upon the universalization of particular values in places is, we argue, to open these projects to contestation at multiple scales by people whose lives have come to be entangled with extractive industry.

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