We will be adding some thoughts and snippets here as we develop KERB 28
-feel free to drop us a line.
There is a very specific spatial vocabulary of colonialism which can be assembled around three concepts: (1) the line, (2) the centre, and (3) the outside. The ‘line’ is important because it was used to map territory, to survey land, to establish boundaries and to mark the limits of colonial power. The ‘centre’ is important because orientation to the centre was an orientation to the system of power. The ‘outside’ is important because it positioned territory and people in an oppositional relation to the colonial centre; for indigenous Australians to be in an ‘empty space’ was to ‘not exist’. Linda Tuhiwai Smith. Decolonising Methodologies
17 Similarly, the literature on colonial Britishness expressed through the bush battler, the pioneer, the explorer, and the convict place these founding ancestors as struggling against the landscape. Thus the landscape stands in as the oppressor in these narratives of victimization and a displacement occurs; the violence committed against Indigenous people is disavowed. It is the landscape that must be conquered, claimed, and named, not Indigenous people, who at the level of the subconscious are perceived to be part of the landscape and thus not human. By creating the landscape as oppressor, the values and virtues of achieving white possession can be valorized and Indigenous dispossession can be erased; the mythology of peaceful settlement is perpetuated and sustained.
Aileen, Moreton-Robinson. White Possessive : Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty
16 Nature, wilderness, and civilization are socially constructed concepts that
change over time and serve as stage settings in the progressive narrative. So too
are the concepts of male and female and the roles that men and women play on
the stage of history. The authors of such powerful narratives as laissez-faire capitalism, mechanistic science, manifest density, and the frontier story are usually
privileged elites with access to power and patronage. Their words are read by
persons of power who add the new stories to the older biblical story. As such the
books become the library of Western culture. The library, in turn, functions as
ideology when ordinary people read, listen to, internalize, and act out the stories
told by their elders—the ministers, entrepreneurs, newspaper editors, and professors who teach and socialize the young.
Carolyn Merhant - Reinventing Eden
15 If the ego cogito was built upon the foundations of the ego conquiro , the ‘I think, therefore I am’ presupposes two unacknowledged dimensions. Beneath the ‘I think’ we can read ‘others do not think’, and behind the ‘I am’ it is possible to locate the philosophical justification for the idea that ‘others are not’ or do not have being. In this way we are led to uncover the complexity of the Cartesian formulation. From ‘I think, therefore I am’ we are led to the more complex and both philosophically and historically accurate expression:
‘I think (others do not think, or do not think properly), therefore I am (others are-not, lack being, should not exist or are dispensable)’.
Nelson Maldonado Torres The Coloniality of Being
Nelson Maldonado Torres - The Coloniality of Being
14 “The Cartesian idea about the division between res cogitans and res extensa (consciousness and matter) which translates itself into a divide between the mind and the body or between the human and nature is preceded and even, one has the temptation to say, to some extent built upon an anthropological colonial difference between the ego conquistador and the ego conquistado . The very relationship between colonizer and colonized provided a new model to understand the relationship between the soul or mind and the body; and likewise, modern articulations of the mind/body are used as models to conceive the colonizer/colonized relation, as well as the relation between man and woman, particularly the woman of color.” Nelson Maldonado Torres - The Coloniality of Being
13 As such, I conclude by speculating on the idea that power is concerned as much with relations of cultural hegemony as with those of “natural hegemony,” insofar as power seeks to impose a particular view of what nature stands for in such a manner that it appears as a universal condition, thus reducing the diversity of forms of entanglement between society and environment to an univocally utilitarian perspective. The hidden laws and politics that constituted this natural order have functioned and continue to function as a subtle yet powerful instrument of domination of both humans and nonhumans, and, crucially, of the relations established between them. Paulo Tavares - Non Human Rights.
12 On Decolonialism: “This is not an essentialist, fundamentalist, anti-European critique. It a
perspective that is critical of both Eurocentric and Third World fundamentalisms, colonialism and nationalism. What all fundamentalisms share (including
the Eurocentric one) is the premise that there is only one sole epistemic
tradition from which to achieve Truth and Universality. However, my main
points here are three: (1) that a decolonial epistemic perspective requires a
broader canon of thought than simply the Western canon (including the Left
Western canon); (2) that a truly universal decolonial perspective cannot be
based on an abstract universal (one particular that raises itself as universal
global design), but would have to be the result of the critical dialogue between
diverse critical epistemic/ethical/political projects towards a pluriversal as
oppose to a universal world; (3) that decolonization of knowledge would
require to take seriously the epistemic perspective/cosmologies/insights of
critical thinkers from the Global South thinking from and with subalternized
racial/ethnic/sexual spaces and bodies.” Ramón Grosfoguel -The Epistemic Decolonial Turn
11 “The living world can be divided up into portions or countries, each of which is a unit or living system. Each country is independent; this means that it is its own boss. But no country is self-sufficient. Each one is surrounded by other countries, so that across the continent and on into the sea, there is a network of countries. No country is ruled by any other, and no country can live without others. It follows
that no country is the centre toward which other countries must orient themselves,
and, equally, that each is its own centre.
In contrast, settler Australians understand the continent by reference to the distances between the centres (usually cities), and the remoteness of areas far fromcities. Much of the continent, in settler terms, is remote. But for the Aboriginal people who live in these remote areas (and undoubtedly for many of the settlers who also live there), where they are is the centre. As Eric Michaels pointed out, from the
perspective of the Tanami region of the western Northern Territory, Canberra is a very remote place indeed.“ Deborah Bird Rose - Nourishing Terrains
10 As soon as you say the word “theory” you are in a modernist (or modern), human-centred position. Modernism is not lingering; it has many versions which concur in a quasi-negationist stance, regularly implying that what we should beware of is not the recently discovered instability of what was taken for granted, but rather the fact that this discovery could give strength to their traditional theoretical enemies. This is why I use this name Gaïa, in a deliberately provocative way, in order to incite these “modernists” and their implicit or explicit strategy of denial (their urge to deny) to come out into view. They feel that the intrusion of an Earth—no longer “ours” to protect or to exploit, but gifted with daunting powers to dislodge “us” from our commanding position—is very dangerous; not dangerous, that is, in the usual terms, but dangerous because She has no right to do so! Gaïa, as the bastard child of scientists and paganism, is encapsulating everything they gave themselves the duty to guard “truth” against. She must be taken as a trick of the Enemy, not as a question to be answered; it is part of the idealist character of theories, especially theories haunted by the salvation/damnation dualism, to identify what might confuse their perspective with such a trick. Their duty is to keep steering the rightful course, to resist the temptation to betray it. Better death than betrayal! Isabelle Stengers.
“No ethics, no politics, whether revolutionary or not, seems possible and thinkable and just that does not recognize in its principle the respect for those others who are no longer or for those others who are not yet there, presently living, whether they are already dead or not yet born.” Jacques Derrida - Spectres of Marx
The temporal centredness of the capitalist paradigm provides the structural possibility for the socio-ecological destruction constituting the Anthropocene. Similarly it was the spatio-temporal centredness of Imperialism through the denial of coevalness and the myth of developmentalism; that enabled the violent colonisation of a projected periphery. This Centrism is the same structure which Capitalism exploits in the supposed production of value. It is through the exclusion of time that value is created - the time it takes an old growth forest to grow, or for a textile worker to make a garment, or for a seafarer to be away from their family, or for pollution to decay. By moving to Decenter, shifting to feel the large timescales and rhythms of slow violence and Hyperobjects - we destabilise the logic required for the violent excess of Capitalism and we begin to negotiate for coexistence. In Kerb 28 we ask how we can Decentre? In what configuration might design provide a praxis for decentring?
8 “With the recent mainstreaming of climate change as a political problem, resilience similarly threatens to subsume articulations of political difference to a totalizing will to action. Resilience risks becoming code word for “business as usual” as industrial, military, and political elites rearrange their operations to acknowledge the reality of climate change while maintaining relations of power.” Mark Vardy, Mick Smith - Resilience
7 “in The Darker Side of Western Modernity (2011), Walter D. Mignolo introduces the Colombian philosopher Santiago Castro-Gómez’s notion of “thehubris of the zero point.” Mignolo argues that the Middle Ages were invented to create a separation between a ‘before’ the Renaissance to provide a ‘zero point’ for modernity, after which “the planet was all of a sudden living in different temporalities, with Europe in the present and the rest in the past.” Coloniality, Mignolo argues, is therefore synonymous with modernity. “At the inception of the colonial matrix of power,” Mignolo further argues, “‘barbarians’ were located in space” with period maps illustrating strange creatures and barbarians in the map’s margins. However, by the eighteenth century, the term “‘barbarians’ [was] translated into ‘primitives’ and [thereby] located in time rather than space.” During this same period, ‘natural history’ was changed “from a description of entities . . . into the chronological narrative that starts at the beginning of time.” This change is implied by the conjunction of the two words: “nature,” some empirically describable phenomenon in the present, and “history,” the description of events that occurred in the past—a change that demonstrates the influence of evolutionary theories of Darwin on the study of nature. In this way, Mignolo believed that “time was conceived and naturalized as both the measure of human history (modernity) and the time-scale of human beings (primitives) in their distance from modernity.” In this way, “the concept of time joined . . . the concept of system (of nature) and was used to imagine the logic of society” plotting “an imaginary line . . . from culture to nature, from barbarism to civilization following a progressive destination toward some point of arrival” where “the more you go toward the past, the closer you get to nature.”
“ Julian Raxworthy - Decolonising Landscape Architecture
6 “A key aspect of epistemic disobedience in support of decolonization is a recognition of the inherently geopolitical nature of knowledge that reveals the Eurocentrism of disciplines, prompting a “definitive rejection of ‘the epistemic privileges of the zero point.’”13 As I shall discuss further, the ‘zero point’ is the location, or rather origin, of the discipline in both space and time (generally in Europe or America) that renders everything else outside it.” Julian Raxworthy - Decolonising Landscape Architecture
5 “What form must the requisite knowing relation take between the white Australian occupier and the other in order that the latter be positioned to give the requisite recognition? Since it is the unmediated possession of the land that must remain hidden, the white knower cannot say ‘the land is mine, therefore, it is not yours’, as do the genuine owners, the Indigenous peoples, to the white occupiers. (The assertion ‘is mine’ must always be absolutely grounded in immediate possession, which in the case of the occupier has been violated.) The only option available to the white Australian occupier is to say, ‘the land is not yours, therefore, it is mine.’” George Nicolacopoulos and Toula Vassilacopoulos -The Being of The Occupier: Manifesto for a White Australian Philosophy of Origins.
4 “Drawing upon Emmanuel Levinas’s argument, Robert Young (1990, 13–14) uses the term “ontological imperialism” to define the implicit violence of ontology in which the self “constitutes itself through a form of negativity in relation to the other” and the other is assimilated into the self so that its alterity disappears. He then argues that this is the defining characteristic of Western philosophy, from Socrates to Heidegger. Here, if we substitute the “center” and the “periphery” for the “self” and the “other,” respectively, we may argue that the center exercises “ontological imperialism” over the periphery.” Kang, Jung In - Western-Centrism and Contemporary Korean Political Thought
3 “To have a truly ecological view we must exit from this idea of landscape, based on a first- or third person perspective, and instead look for a zero-person perspective, as absurd as this sounds from a traditional modernist point of view. We could at leas allow other entities, sentient and non-sentient, to talk to us.” Timothy Morton - Zero Landscapes in the time of Hyperobjects.
2 “Thinking about deep time is challenging; deep time is strange and warps our sense of indebtedness to earth forces and creatures past, present, and future. Alienation is perhaps the most logical reaction to sublime, inhuman timescales. Confronted by stretched-out temporal horizons, the human figure is marginalized, decentered as measure of all things.” Michelle Bastian, David Farrier, Franklin Ginn, Jeremy Kidwell - Unexpected Encounters with Deep Time
1 “Rob Nixon argues that the ‘slow violence’ of environmental collapse - the too often ‘invisible’ violence that unfolds over decades or even centuries, from the acidification of the oceans to the radioactivity of depleted uranium – represents a formidable representational challenge for contemporary environmental activists. In an era in which ‘the media venerate the spectacular and when public policy is shaped primarily around perceived immediate need’, the challenges of making visible the ‘staggeringly discounted casualties’ associated with environmental destruction are both substantial and urgent.” Erin Fitz-Henry - Conjuring the past: Slow Violence and the Temporalities of Environmental Rights Tribunals