Settler soliciting consent (if it’s not consent, it must be refusal): Audra Simpson, ‘Consent’s Revenge’, Cultural Anthropology, 31, 3, pp. 326–333

24Aug16

Excerpt: Refusal was a stance but also a theory of the political that was being pronounced over and over again. It emerged in my own writing through observation of Kahnawà:ke action, but also through their words. I would hear “enough is enough,” “it’s not us, it’s them,” “the white man put that there, not us”—on the international border. The people of Kahnawà:ke used every opportunity to remind non-Native people that this is not their land, that there are other political orders and possibilities. This meant longer waits at borders, awkward (to say the least) interactions with cashiers, as well as difficult personal decisions. I also saw that these matters of moral and political habit were articulated quite perfectly to larger actions by the Iroquois Confederacy through time, to broader efforts to demand recognition of existing agreements, as well as refusals to play various games. Among these games is citizenship: voting, paying taxes—actions that would move Mohawks out of their own sovereignty into settler citizenship and into the promise of whiteness.3 All of this pointed analytically to the deeply unequal scene of articulation that people were thrown into and remaking through the quotidian and the grand. This deeply unequal scene of articulation that I am describing may be understood as the settler-colonial present.4 How, then, do those who are targeted for elimination, those who have had their land stolen from them, their bodies and their cultures worked on to be made into something else articulate their politics? How can one articulate political projects if one has been offered a half-life of civilization in exchange for land? These people have preexisting political traditions to draw from—so how do they, then, do things? They refuse to consent to the apparatuses of the state. And in time with that, I refused then, and still do now, to tell the internal story of their struggle. But I consent to telling the story of their constraint.



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