Other-wise: Indigenous philosophies and practices of multispecies justice

Hear from Indigenous scholars and artists as they discuss the potential for multispecies justice to realign politics and practices to protect and let flourish the natural world.

This event was held on 28 June 2023 as part of the Sydney Environment Institute’s Beyond Bios Symposium.

What if politics were reoriented in a way that recognises humans as just one type of subjects of justice amongst a community of multiple beings? What if politics were reoriented to take responsibility for planetary flourishing? Such an orientation has been labelled multispecies justice. While it is ‘new’ to modern Anglo-European philosophical and political traditions, multispecies justice grounds Indigenous approaches to ethical living. 

Often talked about in abstract terms, a politics of multispecies justice can be hard to imagine. Thinking only of immediate benefits for living human beings has such a tight grip on ethics, mindsets and institutions that any other way of being is near unimaginable.

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Danielle Celermajer (Chair), sociologist

Danielle Celermajer is the Sydney Environment Institute’s Deputy Director – Academic, lead of SEI’s Environmental imaginaries and storytelling research theme and co-lead of SEI’s Environmental Justice theme. She is a Professor of Sociology and Criminology in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. After living through the 2019/2020 NSW bushfires, Dany wrote of her experience of the “killing of everything”, which she calls “omnicide” and published her book Summertime: Reflections on a Vanishing Future.

Judith Nangala Crispin, poet and visual artist

Judith Nangala Crispin is a Canberra-based poet and visual artist, with a background in music. She has published a collection of poetry, The Myrrh-Bearers (Puncher & Wattmann, 2015), and a book of images and poems made while living with the Warlpiri, The Lumen Seed (Daylight Books, 2017). Judith is a proud member of Oculi collective, one of the chapter leads of Women Photograph (Sydney), and the 2021 Artist in residence with Music Viva.  Since 2011, Judith has spent part of each year living and working with tribal people in the Tanami desert. Her work includes themes of displacement and identity loss, a reflection on her own lost Aboriginal ancestry, but is primarily centred on the concept of connection with Country. Judith traces her ancestry to the Bpangerang people of North-Eastern Victoria and the NSW Riverina. She also traces ancestry to Ghana, Senegal, France, Ireland and Scotland, but foregrounds her Aboriginal ancestry.

Craig Santos Perez, creative writing scholar

Craig Santos Perez is an indigenous Chamoru from Guam. He holds an MFA in Creative writing from the University of San Francisco and a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the co-editor of seven anthologies and the author of six books of poetry and the academic monograph Navigating Chamoru Poetry: Indigeneity, Aesthetics, and Decolonization (2022). He is a professor in the English department and affiliate faculty with the Center for Pacific Islands Studies and the Indigenous Politics program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. 

Makere Stewart-Harawira, Indigenous environmental scholar

Makere Stewart-Harawira is Professor in Indigenous, Environmental, and Global Studies in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta, Canada. An Indigenous (Maori) scholar from Aotearoa New Zealand, Makere is a member of the Waitaha ki Waipounamu iwi and has been living and working on Treaty Six lands in Alberta, Canada since 2004. Her work focuses on Indigenous knowledge systems, ethics and values in relation to integrative approaches to ecosystem and human-more-than-human wellbeing, multi species justice; planetary stewardship, and freshwater governance. Makere is the Program Lead for the I-STEAM Pathways Indigenous Youth Environmental Education Program. She previously led "Intersections of Sustainability" Network, funded by the Kule Institute for Advanced Study. 

Christine Winter, Indigenous environmental justice scholar

Christine Winter (Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairoa) is a Senior Lecturer in Politics Program at the University of Otago and Research Affiliate at the Sydney Environment Institute. She researches the ways justice theory perpetuates colonial practices of domination, oppression and violence. Her key areas of interest are multispecies, environmental, indigenous, intergenerational and climate justice.

Header image: On a night of meteor showers and lit uranium mines, Jeremy, released from his chickenhawk body by a passing truck, unfolds his thousand-eyed wings. By Judith Crispin.

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