Damaging Environments

Land, Settler Colonialism, and Security for Indigenous Peoples

in Environment and Society
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ABSTRACT

This article theorizes why Indigenous peoples’ security claims fail to be accepted by government authorities or incorporated into the security policies and practices of settler states. By engaging the concepts of securitization and ontological security, I explain how Indigenous peoples are unable to successfully “speak” security to the state. I argue that nondominant societal groups are unable to gain authoritative acceptance for security issues that challenge the dominant national identity. In effect, indigeneity acts an inhibiting condition for successful securitization because, by identifying the state and dominant society as the source of their insecurity, Indigenous peoples’ security claims challenge the ontological security of settler societies. Given the incommensurability of Indigenous and settler claims to authority over land, and the ontological relationship to land that underpins Indigenous identities and worldviews, the inhibiting condition is especially relevant with respect to security claims based on damage to the natural environment.

Contributor Notes

WILFRID GREAVES is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Victoria. His research examines the intersections between security theory and environmental politics with focuses on climate change, energy extraction, Indigenous peoples, and the circumpolar Arctic. He has published more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and his monograph, Arctic In/Security: Polar Politics, Indigenous Peoples, and Environmental Change in Canada and Norway, is forthcoming from University of Toronto Press. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto and was previously Lecturer at the Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice. Email: wgreaves@uvic.ca

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