How Canadian bureaucrats make state territory in the name of ‘restoring’ Indigenous rights

I’m quite happy that some recent work of mine is now out in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers.[very happy to send copies to anybody with subscription or without email].

The paper looks at how bureaucrats in Canada used the development of new legislation regarding private property on lands reserved for First Nations to convert Indigenous claims to territory into spaces akin to municipalities. I’ve put the abstract below, and aim to put out a short piece or two to summarize soon; one aspect of the work is its basis in bureaucratic practices…many of which are about addressing critiques within and beyond the government. So I’ll be keen to see what (if any) responses it generates.

Bureaucratic Territory: First Nations, Private Property, and “Turn-Key” Colonialism in Canada


Since 2006, successive Canadian governments have worked to create private property regimes on lands reserved for First Nations. This article examines how the state framed the theory and history of Aboriginal property rights to achieve this goal. It then shows how, under the pretense of restoration, bureaucrats developed legislation that would create novel political spaces where, once converted to private property, reserved lands would function as a new kind of federal municipality in Canada. These changes took place in two ways: First, bureaucrats situated Aboriginal property within the state apparatus and reconfigured Indigenous territorial rights into a series of “regulatory gaps” regarding voting thresholds, certainty of title, and the historical misrepresentation of First Nations economies. Second, the government crafted legislation under what is known as the First Nations Property Ownership Initiative that, by closing regulatory gaps, would produce private property regimes analogous to municipal arrangements elsewhere in Canada. These bureaucratic practices realigned internal state mechanisms to produce novel external boundaries among the state, Indigenous lands, and the economy. By tracking how bureaucratic practices adapted to Indigenous refusals of state agendas, the article shows how the bureaucratic production of territory gave form to a new iteration of settler-colonialism in Canada.


David Schlosberg: On the origins of environmental bullsh*t: the producers and beneficiaries of post-truth in the environmental arena

Leadership for the Ecozoic: Call for PhD students (McGill/Vermont)

See the link below for PhD opportunities regarding a new program jointly produced by McGill University and the University of Vermont…a follow up to their partnership on the Economics for the Anthropocene project.

Building on E4A, we are proud to announce an important evolution of our project! We are looking for excellent PhD students to become leaders for the Ecozoic. Please see below our recruitment call. Leadership for the Ecozoic (L4E) offers exceptional graduate students the opportunity to collaborate in enabling a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship. Position:…

via The new Leadership for the Ecozoic (L4E) project seeks PhD students! — Economics for the Anthropocene

New book from Christopher Preston: The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World

9780262037617I’ve long enjoyed reading Christopher Preston’s work on environmental ethics and look forward to this new book with MIT Press out later this spring.

The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World

Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World

We have all heard that there are no longer any places left on Earth untouched by humans. The significance of this goes beyond statistics documenting melting glaciers and shrinking species counts. It signals a new geological epoch. In The Synthetic Age, Christopher Preston argues that what is most startling about this coming epoch is not only how much impact humans have had but, more important, how much deliberate shaping they will start to do. Emerging technologies promise to give us the power to take over some of Nature’s most basic operations. It is not just that we are exiting the Holocene and entering the Anthropocene; it is that we are leaving behind the time in which planetary change is just the unintended consequence of unbridled industrialism. A world designed by engineers and technicians means the birth of the planet’s first Synthetic Age.

Preston describes a range of technologies that will reconfigure Earth’s very metabolism: nanotechnologies that can restructure natural forms of matter; “molecular manufacturing” that offers unlimited repurposing; synthetic biology’s potential to build, not just read, a genome; “biological mini-machines” that can outdesign evolution; the relocation and resurrection of species; and climate engineering attempts to manage solar radiation by synthesizing a volcanic haze, cool surface temperatures by increasing the brightness of clouds, and remove carbon from the atmosphere with artificial trees that capture carbon from the breeze.

What does it mean when humans shift from being caretakers of the Earth to being shapers of it? And in whom should we trust to decide the contours of our synthetic future? These questions are too important to be left to the engineers.