The University of Arizona

A Political Ecology of Healing

Elisabeth Middleton

Abstract


Political ecology has expanded in multiple new directions since Piers Blaikie's explanation of the manifestations of political economy and ecology in the "problem" of soil erosion in the 1980s. In this article, I try to extend political ecology to engage with ethnic studies literature on coloniality, and indigenous perspectives on intergenerational trauma and healing. Drawing on historic and contemporary examples of Maidu governance and resource development in the Maidu homeland, California, USA, I extend the concept of intergenerational trauma in Native American communities from the individual and ethnic group levels to include the community's relationship with the land, and the concept of itself as a sovereign civic, governing body. I place specific manifestations of trauma, de-colonizing, and healing, as exemplified by Maidu natural resource activism, in dialogue with political ecology approaches to better understand the relationships between historically colonized people, governance, and land. I argue that the relationships between people and resources that political ecology focuses on cannot be adequately understood in historically colonized communities dealing with neo-colonial resource and political policies, without attention to perspectives on coloniality/de-coloniality, and trauma/healing. These perspectives come from both survivors of colonialism, and from ethnic studies and indigeneity scholars.

Key words: political ecology, coloniality, Maidu, trauma, healing, Native American


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2458/v17i1.21696