Indigenous Visions of the Global Extinction Crisis

Thursday, June 2, 2016, 9:00AM - Friday, June 3, 2016, 5:00PM
Room 2-33

In just four decades, more than half of the known species on Earth may have gone extinct. Western scientists studying patterns of extinction warn that in just a few centuries, more than 75% of life forms may be gone. In short, the planet is confronting a global extinction crisis, which may turn into the Earth's 'Sixth Mass Extinction' event. How can and should diverse human communities respond to this crisis?

Indigenous Visions of the Global Extinction Crisis starts from the belief that Indigenous forms of knowledge offer rich sources of inspiration and wisdom for approaching the global extinction crisis, including ontologies that recognize the relations between humans and other beings, cosmologies that reflect deep time and cosmic scales, and ways of knowing that emerge from deep connections to place and other beings. As such, it is important to ask Indigenous communities around the world how they are experiencing this crisis, how they are making sense of it, and how they are responding to it.

Instead of instrumentalizing these forms of knowledge as 'Traditional Ecological Knowledge' or empirical data to be used by Western science, this project aims to re-think Western scientific concepts of extinction, survival and the relations between beings from diverse Indigenous perspectives. Rather than treating Indigenous knowledge simply as a source for localized empirical data, it will engage with contemporary Indigenous thought and its visions for global governance and ethics.

Through these efforts, the project aims to decolonize narratives and public perceptions of mass extinction and possible responses to it. To this end, our workshop will bring together leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, communities, knowledge keepers, activists and artists to re-imagine the global extinction crisis and to generate multiple visions for responding to it.

Public event:

Our programme will kick off with a public event that will include:

  • Welcome songs and dances by the Waterloo Aboriginal Students Association
  • Traditional Haudenosaunee thanksgiving and condolence ceremonies
  • A talking circle involving workshop participants and attendees
  • Exhibition of Indigenous artwork
  • Reception

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