As the Fall semester approaches its conclusion, ENVS 350 is reaching its culmination in preparation for ENVS 400 and the final capstone. Regarding my topic; "Environment" is a word so embedded in environmental discourse and scholarship that it has effectively disappeared. We all know what the environment is—or do we? And what do our unexamined assumptions about environment mean for how we approach environmental issues? A careful examination of the word might lead us to... More Colonialism, I selected three key frameworks to place my study within environmental theory. They are Indigenous territorial rights, land grabbing, and environmental (in)justice. Each are crucial to understanding how marginalized communities are those most harmed by historical practices, and how precedents for additional harm utilize those practices to continue to occur in the present day.
These three frameworks represented the best way to convey that, due to their ability to focus on contemporary movements as a reflection of ongoing traumas. Particularly in the arrival of the private financial sector being normalized as the primary colonizing factor being faced today, explanations provided by my chosen frameworks will carry my capstone forward into the next semester.
In selecting land grabbing, I wanted to focus on the contemporary drivers that exist, including food insecurity, fuel scarcity, commodification of resources, development of economic zones, and neoliberal narratives emphasizing the role of foreign investment.
In selecting Indigenous territorial rights, I wanted to emphasize how the negative environmental and social impacts of forcing Indigenous peoples off their land for resource extraction cannot be overstated, in many cases leading to a complete breakdown of the cultural past of these communities.
In selecting environmental (in)justice, my goal was to convey how the inequity and disparity in the distribution and experience of environmental damage are found to be directly linked to race and class.
Each framework relates a different link to the ultimate construction of colonization. The ways in which it occurs in the present day is not typically in clear governmental power dynamics, instead manifesting in the private sector as neoliberal practices shift the acceptable nature of how land is accumulated and exploited. Occupied communities face many of the same challenges, but the way in which colonization functions in a “post-colonial” world will be a focal point of my exploration.
My focus on the ownership of land over time, both as a human conception and one that questions how applicable that is to the definition of land, is rooted in both colonization and identity. My framing question that highlights land ownership seeks to outline the power disparities that occur on multiple fronts, designating between how an individual self-identifies with the landscape and how ruling powers utilize legal ownership of a landscape.
In the next couple of weeks, I hope to begin the process of seeking interviews from multiple areas in my situated context, including New Zealand, China, and the United States. This will involve incorporating my frameworks to formulate questions to facilitate beneficial conversations, not just for me and my project but in a way that invigorates those who are being interviewed to see their experience in a comparative way.
Additionally, I will use my experience within the history major to conduct historical research to contextualize each area of study and see how it shifts throughout time scales. The shift between government actors and private actors is particularly interesting, so my ability to conduct research within historical archives and materials will be essential to the success of my capstone.