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The Violence of Allyship: The role of Indigeneity, advocacy, and narrative-making in environmental justice. 
Lydia Gibson (UCL)
Julia Sauma (Goldsmiths, University of London)
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Wednesday 27 October, 13:00-14:30

Short Abstract:

This panel seeks to bring together a set of reflections on how anthropological research within, around, and on conservation - and the advocacy, compromises, and narratives that accompany it - reproduces and accelerates particular forms of violence and inequalities across global and local scales

Long Abstract

Adam Kuper's polemic The Return of The Native sent ripples of furore through the anthropological community, with many arguing for its erasure from our collective consciousness. Some, however, saw amongst its inflammatory, and inaccurate statements an opportunity for serious reflection over the growing role of the anthropologist, not just as witness, but advocate, ally, co-narrator in the natural spaces where big power, big money, big data and small communities collide over resource and representation alike. Over 15 years later, we have yet to see this reckoning materialise.

In this time, we have seen Critical Race Theories applied to the work of advocates and allies within racial justice movements, and the unfurling of the paradox that is the critical importance of visibility and inclusion, and the violence it brings - through its requirements of familiarity, relevance, and strategic performativity as "double consciousness" ruptures identities of marginalised participants. As local communities are stratified into haves and have-nots of specialist knowledge. As non-actors are plunged into an obscurity entrenched in poverty, violence, and trauma. As allies preen and primp their closest interlocutors to secure the best outcomes - the faith is good, the psychological impact not. This panel hopes to lay the foundation of such reckoning, by applying some of these modes of thoughts to environmental justice, reaching beyond the works of Tania Li, Elizabeth Povinelli and others, and the scope of the reflexive turn to uncover our precise role in these crimes - witness, perpetrator, co-conspirator - and how we move forward.

Accepted papers:

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