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Indigenous Worlds

The conservation industry’s ‘New Deal for Nature’ is a disaster for people and planet

Stephen Corry writes: The latest idea to be heavily promoted by big conservation NGOs is doubling the world’s “Protected-Areas” so that they cover 30% of the globe’s lands and oceans. What better answer to climate change and biodiversity loss? But it’s actually dangerous nonsense which would have exactly the reverse effect to what we’re told.

Ethno-ornithology: What the birds have to tell us

From The Conversation: People around the world and throughout history have used birds to think about and predict the future. This new research project that compared reports from six continents found that people from diverse communities pay attention to particular birds and what they reveal about the world around us, from approaching weather to illness.

What America lost when it lost the bison

From The Atlantic: In the 18th century, European colonizers virtually eliminated the American bison. When we lose animals, we also lose everything those animals do. When insects decline, plants go unpollinated. When birds disappear, pests go uncontrolled and seeds stay put. When bison are exterminated, springtime changes in ways that we still don’t fully understand.

Bolivia, Brazil and South America’s never-ending resource curse

From The Intercept: Anthropologist and Bolivia scholar Bret Gustafson offers a nuanced analysis of how the coup in Bolivia unfolded, who benefits from the present crisis, and what is at stake for the overwhelmingly indigenous population. Also, Glenn Greenwald talks about his recent conversation with Brazil’s former president Lula, who was recently released from prison.

The fate of Ladakh in the Age of Ambani

Padma Rigzin writes: Ladakh’s folk religion teaches that humans do not form the centre of the natural world but are merely inhabitants. So much so that my ancestors would not move a rock to build a house. Unfortunately, people in Leh are shouting the tune of the mainstream. Ambani has already started knocking our doors.

The invisible victims of an unfinished city

From Mongabay India: First envisaged in the early 2000s, Lavasa was touted as independent India’s first privately owned hill city. But over the years, the project faced numerous legal cases of usurping the land of villagers and violating environmental conditions. It’s now a ghost town with empty, unfinished construction or buildings vacated by their occupants.

Thus Spoke the Plant: A Remarkable Journey of Groundbreaking Scientific Discoveries

From The New York Times: Scientist Monica Gagliano’s botanical research, which has broken boundaries in the field of plant behavior, indicate that plants are, to some extent, intelligent. Her experiments suggest that they can learn behaviors and remember them. Her work also suggests that plants can “hear” running water and even produce clicking noises, perhaps to communicate.

‘Spiritual extractivism”: Ayahuasca, colonialism, and the death of a healer

In 2018 April, a 81-year-old Peruvian indigenous healer was murdered by a Canadian man while attempting to extract her knowledge of traditional healing practices. He was in turn lynched by the local people. The sordid incident has since brought together traditional healers in the Peruvian Amazon to resist the growing threat of Western ‘spiritual extractivism’.

An apology from an environmentalist

Jack Thomas writes: I have worked for the last 15 years or so as a professional in various parts of the environmental movement. And I’m sorry. All of us who have feasted off the carcass of a dying planet bear some responsibility, but those of us who got paid to know what was happening and

Ishaan Tharoor: How Somalia’s fishermen became pirates

From Time Magazine: Ever since a civil war brought down Somalia’s last functional government in 1991, the country’s 3,330 km of coastline —the longest in continental Africa— has been pillaged by foreign vessels, freezing out the country’s own rudimentarily-equipped fishermen. The first pirate gangs emerged in the ’90s to protect against the aggressive foreign trawlers.

Forest rights: The arrogance of the ignorant

From The Hindu: That those forests inhabited by Adivasis are some of the best conserved in the subcontinent is a long-standing fact contrary to the understanding of supposedly educated Indians. Sadly, the articulate arrogance of ‘New India’ prevents them from seeing any virtue in those communities who have lived in and by the forests since times immemorial.

As Kerala’s sacred groves disappear, the Theyyam art form loses a vital link

There has always been an unmistakable umbilical link between the dance form of Kerala called Theyyam and nature. The unique pantheistic art form of the Theyyam now faces increasing threats of gentrification and Brahminisation, thus paving the way for the destruction of the sacred groves where it was born. Text and photographs by Thulasi Kakkat.

How conservation became colonialism

From Foreign Policy: Conservationism often conflicts with indigenous traditions of stewardship that have kept the rainforests in balance for thousands of years. The tension has its roots in the founding worldview of modern conservationism, which was conceived not during today’s battle to save the rainforests, but during the genocidal Indian wars in the American West.

Seeing Wetiko: An interview with Alnoor Ladha

From Gaia Foundation: Alnoor Ladha, a founding member of the activist platform The Rules, which tries to “connect the dots between the various issues that are happening in the world to reveal the underlying antagonist: the economic operating system itself.” Here, he speaks on culture, technology and the cannibalistic economic system consuming life on Earth.

Memory, fire and hope: Five lessons from Standing Rock

From Common Dreams: The forced eviction of the Standing Rock protestors is simply the latest chapter in a violent, 500-year-old history of colonisation against the First Nations. It’s also the latest chapter in the battle between an extractive capitalist model and the possibility of a post-capitalist world. For now, let’s remember this movement’s enduring lessons.

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