As folks have noted, Butler’s commentary on interdependence really sounds a lot like Indigenous philosophy/cosmology. After a friend pointed this out, I purchased Butler’s new book on nonviolence: she does not credit any Indigenous philosophers (as far as I can tell) in her notes
The word Indigenous appears twice // once in relation to people who are murdered or disappeared (p.44) and once in relation to those categorized as ‘stateless’, ‘migrant’ or Indigenous (p. 184)
Of course this is a cursory study of the book and maybe I have missed an abiding and deep citation of multi-millennia deep Indigenous cosmologies that centre relationality, interdependence in as ethics of being.
But this feels like a lost opportunity, one very emblematic of the US academy writ large: some scholars can occupy institutions built on Indigenous lands stolen through genocide and never once think with the Indigenous worlds those homelands/watersheds/atmospheres/terrains hold.
It’s made all the more painful by the violence that Berkeley enacts upon Indigenous societies, peoples. While the history of the Yahi is not mine to tell, Berkeley of course has a violent history of genocidal extraction, a history of theft from Indigenous peoples, bodies, worlds.
What does it mean for a settler professor who earned $347,000 USD last year at Berkeley to theorize interdependence but not cite Indigenous philosophies that centre interdependence? In a university built on land grants (theft) and which incarcerated Ishi?
This is not to take away from importance of the book, or the necessary work Butler is doing to refuse the violence of TERFs. But it does highlight how deeply the erasure of Indigenous onto-ethico-epistemologies, in spaces built in part on Indigenous genocide, pervades.
Indigenous societies don’t ‘own’ interdependence, but it’s an important act of interdependence to acknowledge the plural non-western/non-dominant/Indigenous cosmologies that centre interdependence as an ethics of being.
With gratitude to @JuneRubis, who pointed out the resonances between some of the responses in JB’s recent New Statesman interview and Indigenous philosophies
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