Colonialism and Access to a Disenchanted Earth
Yaëll Emerich and Laurence Saint-Pierre Harvey, eds, Accès à la terre et enjeux sociaux : précarité, territorialité et identité (Montreal : Thémis, 2019)
Posted: 24 Sep 2018
Date Written: March 16, 2018
The reverse side of the story of colonisation as the dispossession of Indigenous peoples is that of deracinated settlers attempting to appropriate for themselves a land in which they had no historical roots, and no deep ecological knowledge. This paper argues that this geographical displacement reinforced the rationalisation of property and the disenchantment of peoples’ relationship to place that was occurring throughout Western societies. In many ways, the vocabulary of access, use, rights, occupation, exclusion and control is the language of that disenchanted relationship. Indigenous peoples who wish their claims to be recognised must now frame their relationship in these terms, but there is always resistance to this frame, and the insistence on an alternative language of connection, belonging, knowledge, care and responsibility. However, the denial and destruction of this alternative relationship is not just a tragedy for Indigenous peoples, it is part of the pathology of modern property. This paper poses the question, then, of the possibility of a re-enchanted property system.
Keywords: property, indigenous rights, colonization, disenchantment, displacement
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