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Title:Landscape, justice, and the politics of indigeneity: denaturalizing structures of settler colonialism in the Alberta/Montana borderlands
Author(s):Brown, Nicholas
Director of Research:Harris, Dianne S.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Harris, Dianne S.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Mitchell, Don; Roediger, David R.; Ruggles, D. Fairchild; Byrd, Jodi A.
Department / Program:Landscape Architecture
Discipline:Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):settler colonialism
politics of indigeneity
Glacier National Park
Blackfeet Nation
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation
Abstract:This dissertation examines entanglements of nature, race, possession, and sovereignty in the Alberta/Montana borderlands. Its specific geographic focus is an area of northwest Montana centered on Glacier National Park with the Blackfeet Nation directly to the east and the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation directly to the west. This dissertation considers how categories of difference and visions of justice and political possibility are embedded in the construction, maintenance, and transgression of myriad borders, including spatial, temporal, material, and discursive boundaries. In addition, it examines how border permeability and practices of connectivity are managed within settler colonial contexts. I am particularly interested in how the way we imagine space—how we decipher the politics of connectivity—constrains and/or expands our sense of political possibility and our visions of justice. Moreover, I contend that what we allow to be (seen) in relation structures our historical imagination, geographical imagination, and political imagination. This dissertation is comprised of an introduction, seven chapters, and an epilogue. Chapter 1 frames Glacier National Park in terms of its distinctive geology and suggests that these geologic processes offer clues for refiguring temporal and spatial relations. In addition to considering the implications of the region’s unique geology, chapter 1 focuses on the politics of connectivity, particularly within settler colonial contexts. Chapter 2 focuses specifically on questions about mobility in entangled landscapes, a key aspect of the larger politics of connectivity. Revisiting the simultaneous development of national parks and Indian reservations in the years following the Civil War, the chapter considers how the cultural politics of race, nature, and difference reflect recent transformations in ecological theory and practice. Chapter 3 examines the relationship between primitive accumulation and settler colonialism, both of which are increasingly theorized as structures and ongoing processes. This chapter suggests that a distinct form of accumulation emerges from the intersection of primitive accumulation and settler colonialism. Examples of settler accumulation are explored within the context of contemporary struggles over hydraulic fracturing on the Blackfeet Reservation. Chapters 4 and 5 are closely related and both examine the conjunction of vanishing Indians and glaciers. Chapter 4 establishes the fact that both vanishing Indians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and vanishing glaciers of the early twenty-first century are central to the story of Glacier National Park. Chapter 5 focuses on the continuity of the logic of vanishing, particularly as manifest in the rhetoric of vanishing. The continuity of this rhetoric suggests that the contemporary endangered glacier narrative is not only related to but also predicated on the historical vanishing Indian narrative. Moreover, the continuity reveals a profoundly colonial dimension of climate change. Chapter 6 explores the politics of commemoration within settler colonial contexts. Revealing how time and space are partitioned in a manner that obscures structural continuities, this chapter situates Glacier National Park’s 2010 centennial in relation to the 2010 centennial of the implementation of the General Allotment Act on the Flathead Reservation, which opened it to white settlement. Whereas chapters 4 and 5 consider how space is temporalized, chapter 6 examines how time is spatialized in settler colonial contexts. Examining the relationship, or lack thereof, between peace and justice within the context of conservation, the concluding chapter (Chapter 7) reframes Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park as Waterton-Glacier Intertribal Justice Park. The latter, I argue, more accurately describes a set of material and discursive practices that testify to the partial failure of indigenous dispossession, the refusal of settler recognition, and the durability of aboriginal possession. The epilogue serves as a more conventional conclusion and includes a summary of my primary arguments.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Nicholas A. Brown
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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