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Indigenous knowledges and postcolonial approaches

Work in Environmental Humanities, particularly by Australian scholars, emerges out of an awareness of the interconnected histories of colonial settlement, violence and displacement.

Two Australian scholars Deborah Bird Rose and Libby Robbin write:

Those of us settler society scholars have… [an] ethical imperative here: to be responsive to Indigenous people’s knowledges and aspirations for justice. The ecological humanities thus engage with connectivity and commitment in a time of crisis and concern.[1]

Postcolonial approaches include reflections on ways in which academic research is conducted and critiques of what counts as factual evidence within Western scientific knowledge traditions. The prominent Indigenous scholar from New Zealand, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, articulates how research methods must be decolonised to support social justice and challenge harmful government policies and imperialism. In her oft cited book Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (1999), she describes a Maori Indigenous research agenda, arguing that:

We have a different epistemological tradition which frames the way we see the world, the way we organize ourselves in it, the questions we ask and the solutions we seek. [2]

Deborah Bird Rose will take up some of these concerns in her discussion of the nature-culture dualism in relation to the colonisation of Australia, in Week 2, Step 2.5.


  1. Deborah Bird Rose and Libby Robin, “The Ecological Humanities in Action: An Invitation,” (Issue 31-32, 2004).
  2. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (New York: Zed Books Ltd, 1999): 188.

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Environmental Humanities: Remaking Nature

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