Relations of Water: Colonial Dispossession and Living Otherwise in a World on Fire
Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico
This talk is drawn from Goldstein’s current book manuscript, The Colonial Present: Histories of Dispossession beyond Settlement. It considers the colonial-capitalist politics of water for Indigenous peoples and other racialized peoples during the present moment of climate catastrophe. The juridical production of water in the US Southwest as a “natural resource” to be quantified and managed, and as a “right” to be allocated and administered, has been historically indispensable to settler state formation and racial capitalism. Yet, water in the US Southwest is an increasingly volatile and unsustainable means of securing settler governance and so-called economic growth under conditions of accelerated aridification and climate crisis. This talk focuses on the class action suit State of New Mexico, ex. rel. State Engineer v. R. Lee Aamodt et al. (1966–2017), which adjudicated the water rights of the Pueblos of Nambé, Pojoaque, Tesuque, and San Ildefonso, and thousands of non-Native water users in the Pojoaque Basin. The significance of Aamodt goes far beyond the specific conflicts over water rights among Native peoples, differentially-devalued racialized peoples, state agencies, and real estate speculators in north central New Mexico. Goldstein demonstrates how and why it is necessary to situate the case within the expanded context of Native contestation of ongoing colonial dispossession and recent campaigns by BIPOC-led environmental justice coalitions that link the local and regional dynamics of Aamodt to the global predicaments of capitalist extractivism and climate imperialism.
Alyosha Goldstein is a professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Poverty in Common: The Politics of Community Action during the American Century (Duke University Press, 2012), the editor of Formations of United States Colonialism (Duke University Press, 2014), and the coeditor of For Antifascist Futures: Against the Violence of Imperial Crisis (Common Notions, 2022). He has coedited special issues of Critical Ethnic Studies, Social Text, South Atlantic Quarterly, and Theory & Event.
Co-sponsored by the Department of Ethnic Studies, the Department of African American Studies, the Native American Studies Program, and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs.Click here to download the poster
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