- Program in American Studies
- Department of Anthropology
- High Meadows Environmental Institute
Authors: Andrew Curley and Sara Smith
For a decade, geography has been grappling with a proliferation of cenes: the Anthropocene, the Capitalocene, the Plantationocene. Through the theorization of each of these cenes, human impact on global ecologies is defined in epochs, paying particular attention to industrialization, the expansion of global capitalism, or changes in agriculture and land use practices. We contend that climate activism is built on Eurocentric timelines that still center whiteness, denying Indigenous and Black sovereignty and entrenching colonial capitalist practices on marginalized communities for another generation. To move beyond the cenes, we focus on Indigenous and Black accountings of the environments, letting these narratives ground our understanding of our histories and futures.
Indigenous nations continue to thrive despite decades of forced removal, land dispossession, and economic underdevelopment. Within Indigenous communities, extractive industries produce a particular kind of colonizing relationship that expands social difference and creates new cultural understandings of resources.
The social forces at work are neither static nor two-dimensional. They are dynamic, contradictory, and counter-intuitive. My research focuses on the everyday incorporation of Indigenous nations into colonial economies. Building on ethnographic research, my publications speak to how Indigenous communities understand coal, energy, land, water, infrastructure, and development in an era of energy transition and climate change.