Contradictions of Solidarity

Whiteness, Settler Coloniality, and the Mainstream Environmental Movement

Joe Curnow and Anjali Helferty

Abstract

In this article, we trace the racialized history of the environmental movement in the United States and Canada that has defined the mainstream movement as a default white space. We then interrogate the turn to solidarity as a way to escape/intervene in the racialized and colonial underpinnings of mainstream environmentalism, demonstrating that the practice of solidarity itself depends on these same racial and colonial systems. Given the lack of theorization on solidarity within environmentalism, we draw on examples of solidarity work that bridge place and power and are predicated on disparate social locations, such as in accompaniment or the fair trade movement. We conclude that the contradictions of racialized and colonial solidarity should not preclude settler attempts to engage in solidarity work, but rather become inscribed into environmentalist practices as an ethic of accountability.

Keywords: decolonization; environmentalism; reconciliation; solidarity; whiteness

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3167/ares.2018.090110

Access article on Berghahn Journals