Decolonising is about engaging: Ravi de Costa, Tom Clark, ‘On the responsibility to engage: non-Indigenous peoples in settler states’, Settler Colonial Studies, 2015
Abstract: Many non-Indigenous peoples in settler societies describe themselves as concerned with the legacies of colonialism and wish to become more engaged with that history and with Indigenous peoples. Paradoxically, however, many do not understand what that engagement might entail, how they could do it or whether, indeed, it is their place to do so. In this research, we survey findings from three sets of focus groups with non-Indigenous peoples in Canada conducted over a two-year period and intersecting with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process that has nearly concluded there. The goal was to see what ‘emergent’ discourses of reconciliation are at play in reflective conversations between non-Aboriginal Canadians. Some strong but complex themes arise from this research, in particular a mode of ‘delegation’ and another, of ‘embodiment’. These are expressed in different rhetorical styles and speak to variations in the geography, history and identity of the participants and their communities. A broad but tentative conclusion is that for reconciliation the politics of the local matter. We explore this finding with one eye toward policy innovations and as part of a broad comparative inquiry into non-Indigenous peoples’ ideas of engagement and responsibility in settler colonial states.
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