The ecology of settler-indigenous reconciliation: Esme G. Murdock, ‘Unsettling Reconciliation: Decolonial Methods for Transforming Social-Ecological Systems’, Environmental Values, 27, 5, 2018, pp. 513-533


Abstract: ‘Political reconciliation’ refers to processes for establishing right relations between groups that are emerging from a history coloured by violent relations. However, dominant Western, euro-descendent philosophies of political reconciliation rarely focus on ecological forms of harm or consider practices of ecological violence as constitutive of the violent relations that reconciliation hopes to repair. This article argues that the exclusion of ecological dimensions of harm from dominant Western models of political reconciliation is one way of understanding Indigenous claims of dissatisfaction with such reconciliation projects. This article analyses and contextualises these claims of dissatisfaction by focusing on how dominant Western, euro-descendent models of reconciliation in the North American context import settler-colonial commitments that obscure the primacy of ecological violence in settler-Indigenous land-based conflicts. Furthermore, this article posits that settler-colonial commitments in reconciliation models pose an obstacle to deeper forms of reconciliation, partly because these models uphold dominant euro-descendent cosmologies and conceptions of land over and above Indigenous ones. Finally, this article suggests that that the possibility of deep reconciliation exists, and requires engaging with Indigenous philosophies that place land and relations to land at the centre of right relations, thus working toward decolonising settler-colonial-infused forms of reconciliation. 

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