Roadkill and wildflowers: land-based approaches to settler naturalization

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Settler-colonialism is the process of severing relationships between people and the land. This ongoing process displaces well-established kinship networks between Indigenous communities and their other-than-human relatives, replacing them with systems of exploitation, settlers, and foreign ecologies. Decolonization, the philosophical counterpart to settler-colonialism, relies on the mending of relationships. This project explores the larger project of decolonization from a settler point-of-view and examines the complexities of navigating a colonial context not entirely of our own making. Settler cultures fail to adequately situate people within the ecosystems of the places they now live, and the ecological and social consequences of this failure have been catastrophic. This piece explores the philosophical underpinnings of settler cultures, provides settler-colonial context, and examines the intersections of colonialism, culture, land, food, and conservation. I propose settler-naturalization as a framework for revitalizing cultures that integrate human communities within ecological systems, and posit that the practices of hunting, scavenging, and foraging are potential pathways towards settler-naturalization. I conclude that there is a need for new stories that embody the concept of naturalization and guide settlers away from narratives of displacement.




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