Presentation Title

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

Session Title

People and Engagement

Conference Track

Salish Sea Snapshots

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2016 : Vancouver, B.C.)

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Presenter/Author Information

Emma S. Norman, Northwest Indian CollegeFollow

Type of Presentation

Snapshot

Abstract

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.

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

Type

Text

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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.