Global Environmental Harm, Internal Frontiers and Indigenous Protective Ontologies

Authored by: Ajay Parasram , Lisa Tilley

Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138944596
eBook ISBN: 9781315671192
Adobe ISBN:


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At the Globe Leadership Summit on unceded Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver) in March of 2016, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, set out the need for his country to continue to expand investment in extractive operations and carbon infrastructure in order to fund a low-carbon future ( National Observer 2016). Trudeau’s position – that the most viable route to ecological repair is paved by means of the material expansion of the carbon economy, despite the dispossession and contamination this expansion inevitably exacts – is rooted firmly in the logic of secular modern/colonial science. Yet at the same time, this position is paradoxically demonstrative of what might be described as a mystical faith in an unlikely expectation: that more carbon death can viably lead us directly to a renewable afterlife. The logic behind Trudeau’s policy perfectly demonstrates the epistemic problem we wish to draw attention to in this chapter. That is, colonial science 1 alone is ill-equipped to solve colonial problems. Further, to mitigate such colonially-rooted conditions as planetary environmental harm, the protective ontologies maintained and cultivated by Indigenous communities must be afforded their rightful guiding position at the forefront of global action. 2

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