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Environmental Values

Unsettling Reconciliation: Decolonial Methods for Transforming Social-Ecological Systems

Esme G. Murdock

Environmental Values 27 (2018): 513-533. doi: 10.3197/096327118X15321668325948

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'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.


Political reconciliation, settler colonialism, ecological violence, Indigenous philosophies

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

The Need for Indigenous Voices in Discourse about Introduced Species: Insights from a Controversy over Wild Horses. Jonaki Bhattacharyya and Brendon M.H. Larson

Indigenous Peoples' Participation in Global Conservation: Looking beyond Headdresses and Face Paint. Nels Paulson, Ann Laudati, Amity Doolittle, Meredith Welch-Devine and Pablo Pena

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Pathways to Policy and Management: Knowledge, Process and Venue. Norman Dandy

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