Decolonizing Development in Diné Bikeyah

Resource Extraction, Anti-Capitalism, and Relational Futures

Melanie K. Yazzie

Abstract

In this article, I examine the anti-capitalist and antidevelopment politics that Diné resisters espouse in their critiques of resource extraction in the Navajo Nation. I argue that existing anthropological and historical studies about Diné resistance minimize the specifically anti-capitalist character of this resistance by erasing the capitalist underpinnings of development. I draw from Indigenous feminists, Native studies scholars, and Diné land defenders to argue that development in the form of resource extraction is a violent modality of capitalism that seeks to kill Diné life. In response to this death drive, Diné resisters have created a politics of relational life to challenge and oppose development. I examine the historical and material conditions that have given rise to this politics of relational life and suggest its central role in invigorating anticapitalist decolonization struggles.

Keywords: capitalism; colonialism; Diné/Navajo; Indigenous feminism; liberalism; resistance; resource extraction; settler development

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3167/ares.2018.090103

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