Publication details

(De)colonizing Turtle Island : Decolonial Animal Ethic in Indigenous Artivist Narratives



Year of publication 2021
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Indigenous scholars who incorporate critical animal perspectives in their work show that anthropocentrism was normalized in colonial North America together with patriarchy. In order to participate in the fur trade, fishing industry, and factory farming, Indigenous peoples had to adjust their practices and start viewing nonhuman animals as absent referents. This detachment also strengthened gender hierarchies. Therefore, Indigenous eco-feminist scholars maintain that decolonization has to go hand in hand with the dismantling of patriarchy and anthropocentrism. Billy-Ray Belcourt, the writer and scholar from the Driftpile Cree Nation, proposes decolonial animal ethic as both a theoretical and practical framework that could initiate fruitful discussions about decolonization of Indigenous peoples as well as other-than-human (domesticated) animals whose oppression, he posits, is of colonial and neoliberal nature and parallels that of marginalized people all over the world. In the present colonial context, discussions about the position and treatment of other-than-human animals abound in Indigenous communities but food ethics remains a controversial topic. The award-winning First Nation writer Eden Robinson (Haisla/Heiltsuk) reflects this debate in her latest novels Son of a Trickster (2017) and Trickster Drift (2018) that I analyse through the lens of Belcourt's decolonial animal ethic. Robinson presents several human and other-than-human characters with divergent points of view on food ethics, the relationship between human and other-than-human animals, and decolonization. Furthermore, by focusing on the intersections of violence against (Indigenous) women and other-than-human animals, the novels put emphasis on the concurrent liberation of both. The novels highlight the significance of food decolonization and as such constitute an important addition to decolonial narratives that challenge the Western anthropocentric worldview.
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