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March 2: Alexis Shotwell (Carleton University)

3:30 to 5:00 pm- HSC 1A4* Different Location *

“Claiming bad kin: Responsibility for a suffering world”

Abstract: Utah Phillips is often quoted as having said: “The Earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” This shift from the passive (“someone is dying”) to the active (“this person murders”) constellates social relations of suffering and dying on the planet today. Understanding that the bad things that are happening are not accidents but active choices may call on us to take sides and get organized. When we understand what is happening, those of us who benefit from harm and wrong-doing may want to take the side of the oppressed, the murdered, the wounded. We may also respond by disavowing our connection to the people killing the earth and its people and critters. We may try to claim kin relations with the people who are targeted by social relations of racism, rather than claiming kin with the social relations of harm that benefit us. In this paper, I ask what it could mean for white people and settlers who benefit from historical and current effects of chattel slavery, colonialism, racial distributions of environmental devastation, and capitalism to claim kin with the people producing these effects. If we are complicit in the pain of this suffering world, how might we take responsibility for our bad kin?


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