Indigenous Feminisms: Disturbing Colonialism in Environmental Science Partnerships

Citation:

Dhillon, Carla M. 2020. “Indigenous Feminisms: Disturbing Colonialism in Environmental Science Partnerships.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 6 (4): 483–500.

Author: Carla M. Dhillon

Abstract:

Efforts have been under way by Indigenous peoples to reanimate governance that includes people of all ages and genders. Simultaneous initiatives to decolonize science within environmental fields must confront how settler colonial systems can continue to operate under the guise of partnership. Indigenous feminist theories aid understanding of ongoing colonialism alongside heteropatriarchy and racism with attempts to dismantle oppression in everyday practice. The author examines governance in a North American environmental science partnership consisting of Indigenous and non-Indigenous climate scientists. Using a mixed-methods social network approach, the author evaluates central actors in the national-scale climate science organization on the basis of intersectional identities, relational ties, and structural leadership roles. Findings indicate that Indigenous women and youth were not among core governance dominated by elder Indigenous men and White women. However, Indigenous women consistently bridged distant members back into the group and provided less visible labor to support the organization. These did not translate to decision-making roles. The author argues that Indigenous values of relational reciprocity and self-determination need to supersede the rhetoric of diversity in environmental fields. The case demonstrates the importance of inclusive Indigenous governance to decolonize environmental partnerships and the potential lack of legitimacy should unexamined notions of tradition be used to obscure settler colonial dominance.

Keywords: Native Americans, climate change, social networks, inclusive governance, racism, patriarchy

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Indigenous Regions: Americas, North America

Year: 2020

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