The illusion of boundaries and the gift of multispecies justice

SEI Postdoctoral Fellow Christine Winter reflects on the power of seeing the world through a multispecies justice lens and its unravelling of dominant siloed thinking.

Where does the you end and the air begin, where does the air end and the I begin? 

The idea of borders and boundaries has a tight hold in politics and on academic disciplines. A gift of multispecies justice is to step through these illusionary boundaries into a world of nested relational webs between disciplines, cultures, lands, waters, seas, animal, vegetable, mineral, elemental and spiritual.

From within the lens of Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge and philosophies), SEI Postdoctoral Fellow Christine Winter’s farewell lecture will discuss how multispecies justice might address multiple injustices wrought by the expansionist and universalising impulses of academia, imperialism and globalisation, and demonstrate the potential in multispecies justice of unbounded philosophic openings.

The SEI Postdoctoral Fellowship Lecture celebrates the contributions and careers of our Postdoctoral Research Fellows during their time with us. The title of Christine Winter’s lecture speaks powerfully to who she has been during her time at SEI: a person whose collegiality and wisdom have been boundless gifts, and whose thinking and being exemplify the primacy of relations. Christine leaves SEI as an internationally acclaimed Indigenous environmental philosopher, whose work on intergenerational justice, multispecies justice and Māori philosophy and politics have exhorted and will continue to inspire people around the world to consider what a genuinely capacious understanding of justice might entail.

This event was held at the University of Sydney and online on the 27 April 2022.

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Christine Winter is a SEI Postdoctoral Research Fellow and from the University of Sydney’s Department of Government & International Relations. Her research focuses on the intersection of intergenerational, Indigenous and environmental justice. Drawing on her Anglo-Celtic-Māori cultural heritage she is interested in decolonising political theory by identifying key epistemological and ontological assumptions in theory that are incompatible with indigenous philosophies. In doing so she has two aims: to make justice theory just for Indigenous peoples of the settler states; and to expand the boundaries of theories of intergenerational justice to protect the environment for future generations of Indigenous Peoples and their settler compatriots.

Danielle Celermajer is a Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney and Deputy Director – Academic of the Sydney Environment Institute. Dany is Director of the Multispecies Justice Project and along with her multispecies community, she has recently lived through the NSW fires, writing in the face of their experience of the “killing of everything”, which she calls “omnicide”. Her books include Summertime: Reflections on a Vanishing Future (Penguin 2021).

Header image: Michael Podger via Unsplash