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On the Ecomateriality of Racial-colonial Domination in Rhode Island

Global Historical Sociology of Race and Racism

ISBN: 978-1-80117-219-6, eISBN: 978-1-80117-218-9

Publication date: 30 September 2021


What insights might attending to the cyclical history of colonially imposed environmental change experienced by Indigenous peoples offer to critical intellectual projects concerned with race? How might our understanding of race shift if we took Indigenous peoples' concerns with the usurpation and transformation of land seriously? Motivated by these broader questions, in this chapter, I deploy an approach to the critical inquiry of race that I have tentatively been calling anticolonial environmental sociology. As a single iteration of the anticolonial environmental sociology of race, this chapter focuses on Native (American) perspectives on land and experiences with colonialism. I argue that thinking with Native conceptualizations of land forces us to confront the ecomateriality of race that so often escapes sight in conventional analyses. The chapter proceeds by first theorizing the ecomateriality of race by thinking with recent critical theorizing on colonial racialization, alongside Native conceptualizations of land. To further explicate this theoretical argument, I then turn to an historical excavation of the relations between settlers, Natives, and the land in Rhode Island that is organized according to spatiotemporal distinctions that punctuate Native land relations in this particular global region: the Reservation, the Plantation, and the Narragansett.




This chapter has greatly benefitted from the feedback of Ricarda Hammer, José Itzigsohn, Scott Frickel, and David N. Pellow. I would also like to acknowledge the archivists at Rhode Island State Archives and the Rhode Island Historical Society for all of their assistance. Thank you to Daina Sanchez and Keisha-Khan Perry for the opportunity to share this work at the 2019 Forced Displacements in the Americas Workshop hosted by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Brown University. Finally, I want to thank the editor of Political Power and Social Theory, Julian Go, as well as the guest editors for this special issue, Alexandre White and katrina quisumbing king, and the anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful engagement with the manuscript.


Murphy, M.W. (2021), "On the Ecomateriality of Racial-colonial Domination in Rhode Island", White, A.I.R. and Quisumbing King, K. (Ed.) Global Historical Sociology of Race and Racism (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 38), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 161-189.



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