Decolonising the Earth: Anticolonial Environmentalism and the Soil of Empire

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Abstract

The relationship between humanity and the soil is an increasingly important topic in social theory. However, conceptualisations of the soil developed by anticolonial thinkers at the high point of the movement for self-determination between the 1940s and the 1970s have remained largely ignored. This is a shame, not least because theorists like Eric Williams, Walter Rodney, Suzanne Césaire and Amílcar Cabral were concerned with the soil. Building on recent work on human-soil relations and decolonial ecology, we argue that these four thinkers conceptualised the connection between soil, empire, and anticolonial revolt. Williams and Rodney ground understanding of soil degradation in global relations of economic power, while Césaire and Cabral reconceptualise postcolonial nationhood in terms of the mutability and diversity of the soil. The article concludes by suggesting that these two anticolonial counterpoints, global connectivity and more-than-human identification, anticipate and deepen contemporary attempts to decolonise ecological thinking.

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APA

Davidson, J. P. L., & Carreira da Silva, F. (2024). Decolonising the Earth: Anticolonial Environmentalism and the Soil of Empire. Theory, Culture and Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/02632764241242380

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