C05(b) - Beyond the Boundaries of IR: Power, Indigeneity, and the Settler State, Part 1
Date: Jun 2 | Time: 01:30pm to 03:00pm | Location:
Chair/Président/Présidente : Will Greaves (University of Victoria)
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Leah Sarson (Dalhousie University)
Session Abstract: This panel is part of a growing network of early-career scholars researching the intersections between Indigenous global politics and International Relations (IR). It provides a forum to examine Indigenous peoples and politics both as inter-national relations and as part of the field of International Relations, with a view to contesting the boundaries often employed between the international and domestic realms. Despite increased attention following developments such as the promulgation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the relationships between Indigenous peoples and settler states are largely omitted from the core questions of the field of IR. While political scientists have increasingly recognized the political agency of Indigenous governments and nations as actors within multilevel governance, and the institutionalization of Indigenous peoples within international law and organizations, these literatures primarily situate Indigenous political agency within domestic or institutional contexts that reinforce the colonial position of Indigenous peoples within the settler state. Such perspectives elide central questions arising from IR’s disciplinary focus on questions of power, sovereignty, security, and survival, and persist despite the assertion of many scholars that relations between Indigenous nations and settler states are essentially foreign relations. Panellists refute state-centric assumptions fundamental to traditional practices of International Relations related to which and how actors affect International Relations; ultimately, we are reimagining who counts in International Relations. In this vein, part one focuses on issues of land and governance, while part two highlights the intersections of theory and practice.
The Birth of Permanent Participants in Arctic Governance: Andrew Chater (Brescia University College)
Abstract: Indigenous peoples’ organizations occupy a unique position in Arctic governance, particularly in the Arctic Council, as permanent participants. Many authors have pointed to this status as one of the defining features of the Council, and international governance in general. Indeed, the Arctic Council is the only international institution in which Indigenous peoples’ organizations have a status that is comparable to states. Existing literature examines the significance of this status (such as work by Timo Koivurova and Oran Young) as well as the impact of these actors on the institution (such as work by Terry Fenge and Andrew Chater). Some work discusses reasons that this status emerged (such as work by John English), though in isolation from the greater international context, focusing on the specifics of the case and the personalities of those involved. This paper examines the following research question: Why were Indigenous peoples’ organizations successful gaining permanent participant status in the Arctic Council, yet unsuccessful negotiating a preferred status in other international institutions? The preliminary argument is that the status of permanent participants is a prime example of Arctic exceptionalism, though one influenced by post-Cold War strategic calculations unique to the period of Council creation. This paper undertakes process tracing, drawing on new documentary evidence and interviews with key decision-makers.
Waves of Connection: Tribal Journeys and the Unmaking of Colonial Borders: Rachel (Yacaa?a?) George (University of Alberta)
Abstract: In 2016, the Canadian state moved to be an “unqualified” supporter of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and—in theory—Indigenous self-determination. Despite this move, Canada has continued to assert its presumed authority over Indigenous lands, waters, and bodies—as exemplified by its approval of various extractive natural resource projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline running through British Columbia. These moves strive to marginalize and erase understandings of justice and self-determination that explore the intimate connection between lands, waters, and peoples. As coastal Indigenous nations—as nuu?aa?u? and Coast Salish peoples—we are intimately connected to our waters. We endure, guided by our kinship and deeply embedded in our relationalities, responsibilities, and reciprocity. This paper draws on research completed through the Seascapes project and personal experience as a nuu?aa?u? woman to explore the ways Tribal Journeys—an annual canoe journey bringing together nations along the Pacific—centers story and continuance in ways that inherently resist and unmake colonially imposed borders between kin, nations, and waters. In doing so, this paper also examines the deep connections between the personal and political, and how these methods may inform approaches to and push the boundaries of international relations.
First Nations, LNG Canada, and the Politics of Anti-Pipeline Protests: Will Greaves (University of Victoria), P. Whitney Lackenbauer (Trent University )
Abstract: LNG Canada – the largest private sector resource project in Canadian history – raises numerous questions critical to British Columbia and Canada’s economic, ecological, and political futures. The focus of this paper is the dispute over the Unist’ot’en encampment on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory, which vividly captures the complexity and uncertainty of settler-Indigenous reconciliation, the varied degrees of legitimacy of Indigenous governance structures, state sanctioned violence in the interests of private capital, and the possibility of decolonizing Canada’s political landscape. We argue that the Unist’ot’en encampment, and the varied responses to, represent forms of multi-level political signalling: between the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the Crown, between the Crown and settler society, between different factions within the Wet’suwet’en Nation, and between the Wet’suwet’en and other Indigenous communities. The outcomes of these political contestations have implications for regional economies in British Columbia and Alberta, as well as Canada’s ability to reduce its greenhouse has emissions. As the most recent episode of contentious natural resource extraction in Canada, LNG Canada strikes at the heart of Canadian national unity, stirring the volatile mix of Western Canadian grievance against Ottawa; cultural and economic differences between Alberta and BC; settler-Indigenous relations; and profound disagreement over the future of Canada’s petro-economy.
Spence's Hunger Strike, Grounded Normativity and the Emergence of Decolonial Life in Canada: Sarah Marie Wiebe (University of Hawaii, Manoa)
Abstract: In the snowy Winter of December 2012, from Victoria Island – just across the river from Canada’s federal Parliament buildings – then Attawapiskat Chief Theresa began a hunger strike, willing to die while demanding the renewal of a treaty relationship between the Canadian Crown and Indigenous peoples. Her hunger strike contests the foundational, colonial, sovereign grounds of Canada. Informed by Indigenous and Western feminist scholars i.e. Leanne Betasomasake Simpson, Dian Million, Noelani Goodyear-Ka??pua, Sarah Hunt, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, Elizabeth Povinelli, Krista Lynes and Chantal Mouffe, and drawing from sensory ethnographic methods including community-engagement through mixed media storytelling, the feminist kaleidescopic lens advanced here examines the body as a radical agent for change. This lens draws inspiration from what Glen Coulthard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson refer to as “grounded normativity” (Coulthard 2014; Simpson 2017; Coulthard & Simpson 2016). The core question motivating this paper is as follows: What does it mean to enact a corporeal relational treaty politics and how does it contend with a colonial and patriarchal liberal body politic? This paper takes Spence’s refusal of Indigenous erasure seriously while seeking to amplify Indigenous jurisdictions, laws and governance systems.