The many entanglements of capitalism, colonialism and Indigenous environmental justice

Soundings - ISSN 1362-6620
Volume 2021 Number 78

The many entanglements of capitalism, colonialism and Indigenous environmental justice
Sakshi, pages 64-80
DOI: 10.3898/SOUN.78.04.2021

Abstract

Rio Tinto’s destruction of Juukan Gorge brought international condemnation. The subsequent interim report commissioned by the Australian Parliament was entitled ‘Never Again’. But was this a ‘never again’ to the logic of settler colonialism? Or to the extractive capitalism that rearranges economic and social life with the sole objective of wealth accumulation? Or to the legislative collaboration between settler colonial states and capitalism? Environmental injustice is sustained internationally through the many entanglements at the intersection of law, coloniality, corporate extractivism and Indigenous sovereignty. These entanglements are explored here in relation to: the idea of a ‘trade-off’ between Indigenous rights and ‘economic benefits’ (e.g. the Shenhua coal mine in Australia); the over-riding of local rights through a corporate-driven developmental narrative, which results in the erosion of Indigenous ways of life over a long period, rather than through a singular dramatic event (e.g. oil extraction by Chevron in Ecuador); the difficulties in bringing cases to justice (e.g. the Mount Polley dam collapse in Canada); the need for ‘green alternatives’ to also respect Indigenous rights; and the potential for greater legal regulation (e.g. the ruling by the Supreme Court of Panama on Indigenous rights; recent legal challenges to the Brazilian government’s failure to meet its environmental responsibilities). Social movements and juridical spaces need to adopt a radical shift in their vocabulary and in their world-making practices. Courts play a major role in shaping the way Indigenous environmental justice is understood, and are a vital site of contestation for radical environmental justice movements.

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To cite this article
Sakshi (2021) The many entanglements of capitalism, colonialism and Indigenous environmental justice, Soundings, 2021(78), 64-80

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