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Accepted Paper:

“Indigenous Peoples Protection of 'All Our Relations’: Decolonial Antidotes to Protected Areas & Conservation Policy & Praxis”  


Brian Noble (Dalhousie University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper takes up how Mi’kmaw, Secwepemc, Piikani Blackfoot Peoples' immersive and 'total' reciprocal practices of “protection" of "all our relations" challenge us to recompose, even displace the Conservation hegemon with Inter-peoples relational politics, beyond usual State, ENGO presumptions.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing from conversations I've had with Mi’kmaw, Secwepemc, Piikani Blackfoot people in North America about what it means to “protect”, I consider decolonial moves beyond restrictive, typically modernist conceptions and practices of “Conservation”. The paper asks what it may mean to reconcieve (or dispense with) the hegemonic Conservation ethos when the proper practice ought to be the intricate enacting and protection of relations, often through ceremony, involving ancestors, yet in conversation with conventional state, international and NGO actors. For social anthropologists, this may once again call us to recuperate our Maussian parallels in thinking with “systems of total prestations”, where duty and action arise through actions of deep mutual relations of gift, gratitude and reciprocity, both in the moment, and over time and space — as a means of facing the multiple political, economic, and ecological crises of our times. This leads us to grapple with the persistent demand to honour Indigenous Peoples' practices and modes of ’relational sovereignty’ and the concomitant demand to structure political conversations around “Conservation”, and further around Inter-Peoples mutual protection and eco-social complexes.

I may also draw on a case arising from Tsilhqot’in Peoples establishment of an Indigenous-governed land protection park in their unique Title Declaration territories, raising issues of how that also moves in a different direction around practices of protection, than the conventionalized state & ENGO models of top down, centralized, and standardized policy control of protected areas.

Panel P064
How communities' conserve, and how protected areas can destroy communities' ability to conserve