Composing postcolonial geographies: Postconstructivism, ecology and overcoming ontologies of critique

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This paper seeks to bridge postcolonialism's turn to the environment with postconstructivist ecology and political ontology. Recent critiques by Chakrabarty, Spivak, and associated postcolonial theorists seek to expand the remit of postcolonialism and progressive politics to planetary imperatives, nonhumans, and anthropogenic environmental change. While the more-than-human and collective human environmental impacts are problematic for postcolonialism, they suggest ways to reorient postcolonial epistemology, critique, and progressive politics for the Anthropocene. In so doing, however, they unwittingly assume and reproduce Eurocentric and colonialist ontologies of nature and culture. This paper explains how. By revealing the inner tensions and contradictions within such accounts, I argue for the need to overcome the conceptual reticence within postcolonial studies to making ontological claims. Instead, I advocate a turn to postconstructivist ecology and political ontology. My argument extends tentative turns to materiality in recent postcolonial theory to suggest that postcolonial epistemologies need, increasingly, to attend much more radically to collective ontologies of immanence and ontogenesis. Postconstructivist currents in wider cultural and political geographies may be especially suited to composing and advancing these new postcolonial ecologies. The paper contextualizes examples of ontological approaches to ecology and politics through recent anthropological theory, critical indigeneity scholarship and Amazonian ethnography.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-87
Number of pages16
JournalSingapore Journal of Tropical Geography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2014
EventAdvancing Postcolonial Geographies, National University of Singapore, February 2013 - National University of Singapore, Singapore , Singapore
Duration: 20 Feb 201326 Feb 2013

Structured keywords

  • WUN
  • postcolonialism
  • ecology
  • theory


  • anthropocene
  • ecology
  • indigeneity
  • nature
  • ontology
  • postcolonial
  • critique
  • politics


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