UBC Theses and Dissertations
Theorizing Indigenous economic formations Johnson, David K.
The paper sets out to develop a methodological framework for researching Indigenous political economies. This endeavor has been marked historically by more or less racist and ahistorical culturalisms. Building on recent interventions in Indigenous studies and settler colonial studies, I argue that such research must account for the ongoing history of settler-colonization and Indigenous resistance. Recent work in political theory has taken up this imperative, but the theorization of settler-colonial dispossession comes with problems of its own. The emphasis now laid upon theorizing dispossession, I argue, has produced an amorphous conception of Indigenous political alterities, conceiving them negatively as an absence of European-style institutions. We continue to lack therefore an adequate theory of Indigenous social systems that can account for both historical change and socioeconomic difference. Accordingly, I advocate a Marxian reading of Indigenous and settler economic formations that can better account for social difference by offering a more expansive and comparatist theorization of the categories of production, property, and the metabolic relation to nature. Such a theory offers a powerful resource for understanding the complexity of contemporary settler-colonial relations and for understanding the overlapping interests of socialist and decolonial struggles in North America.
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