Ontological ‘turns’ and colonialism

I’ve mentioned previously the ‘ontological turn’ in anthropology and the growing literature around it, like this special issue from HAU. Last week, a PhD student from Aberdeen, Zoe Todd, wrote a post on her take on the ‘ontological turn’ as an indigenous scholar. In it, she considers the ‘ontological turn’ yet another way of applying colonial forms of domination to indigenous thought, practice, and forms of social and legal order. It is an interesting post and worth the read. It was circulated widely on social media over the weekend.

A number of the themes of the post are worth taking up, such as whether the ‘ontological turn’ is intrinsically related to colonialism such that considerations of difference within it displace and dispossess indigenous forms of thought. I think the folks in the UC Davis group working on indigenous cosmopolitics might have something to contribute on this front. We’re going to have a get together this morning to discuss some of these issues here in Halifax so I’ll try to write an update later this week.