Proposed Abstract Title

From divisible to whole – Engaging with the Salish Sea in a post-colonial era of governance

Presenter/Author Information

Emma S. Norman, Northwest Indian CollegeFollow

Type of Presentation

Snapshot

Session Title

People and Engagement

Location

2016SSEC

Description

In this paper, I explore how the social construction of water as divisible, countable, and manageable rather than fluid, whole, and divine impacts the efficacy of water governance and reifies power dynamics that privilege Western thought. Divisions between agencies, jurisdictions, and units serve to perpetuate fragmentation within water governance. In this paper, I argue that prescriptive framings of water responsibilities – such as water quality, water quantity, surface, ground, fresh and marine - are ill-equipped to handle the complex waterscape of the Salish Sea. In addition, these divisions perpetuate power dynamics that privilege an “abstracted” and “divisible” environment that are counter to many Indigenous knowledge systems. These divisions are even more complicated due to the international geopolitical landscape of the Salish Sea, which includes international boundaries and scores of sovereign Indigenous nations located within the basin, which are wrought with colonial power dynamics. This paper suggests that employing a new framework that actively seeks to transcend fragmented constructions of water, and offers more holistic approaches could provide a catalyst for more robust and effective governance models. In addition, this new model could contribute to a new, post-colonial construction of water systems and a more nuanced understanding of water that elevates water to the standard of sacred.

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From divisible to whole – Engaging with the Salish Sea in a post-colonial era of governance

2016SSEC

In this paper, I explore how the social construction of water as divisible, countable, and manageable rather than fluid, whole, and divine impacts the efficacy of water governance and reifies power dynamics that privilege Western thought. Divisions between agencies, jurisdictions, and units serve to perpetuate fragmentation within water governance. In this paper, I argue that prescriptive framings of water responsibilities – such as water quality, water quantity, surface, ground, fresh and marine - are ill-equipped to handle the complex waterscape of the Salish Sea. In addition, these divisions perpetuate power dynamics that privilege an “abstracted” and “divisible” environment that are counter to many Indigenous knowledge systems. These divisions are even more complicated due to the international geopolitical landscape of the Salish Sea, which includes international boundaries and scores of sovereign Indigenous nations located within the basin, which are wrought with colonial power dynamics. This paper suggests that employing a new framework that actively seeks to transcend fragmented constructions of water, and offers more holistic approaches could provide a catalyst for more robust and effective governance models. In addition, this new model could contribute to a new, post-colonial construction of water systems and a more nuanced understanding of water that elevates water to the standard of sacred.