Mellon Forum: Jaskiran Dhillon and Candis Callison / Indigenous Resistance and Anti-Colonial Critique of Environmental Justice

Indigenous Resistance and Anti-Colonial Critique of Environmental Justice

Jaskiran Dhillon, The New School

Candis Callison, Pathy Distinguished Visitor in Canadian Studies 

This presentation examines the critical interplay among settler colonialism, Indigenous resurgence, and the politics of climate justice. In the wake of a planet-wide movement riddled with idioms about “saving our home,” where the ground is fast-shifting and the fate of humanity’s collective future is at stake, there has been a tidal wave of interest in Indigenous knowledge(s) about the land, water, and sky—a desire to “capture and store” the intergenerational wisdom that speaks to the unpredictable path lying ahead. Still, limited attempts have been made to theorize how conquest and persistent settler colonial violence necessarily factor into debates over the environmental crisis—this, despite the creation of territories of material and psychic abandonment largely fueled by settlers and “settlement.”

Critical questions need to be asked: How are Indigenous political demands for decolonization taken up within the broader scope of impending planetary dystopia? How does "infrastructure" development continue to be positioned against the upholding of treaty rights? This discussion is informed by recent, preliminary fieldwork in Standing Rock, North Dakota where Dhillon has begun documenting these mounting tensions, Ultimately, she argues that an anti-colonial indictment of environmental justice compels us to (re)imagine tactical strategies for decolonial praxis around environmental crisis, Indigenous futurity, and challenges to settler sovereignty.

The Spring 2019 Mellon Forum is organized by Princeton Mellon Fellows Nasser Abourahme and Noam Shoked. The Forum is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional support from the Humanities Council, Center for Collaborative History, Program in Judaic Studies, Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, Program in American Studies and the departments of Art & Archaeology and Near Eastern Studies. Events are free and open to the public.