Shiri Pasternak

Academic Writing

Shiri Pasternak and Tia Dafnos, “How does a settler state secure the circuitry of capital?,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

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Abstract:

Indigenous peoples interrupt commodity flows by asserting jurisdiction and sovereignty over their lands and resources in places that form choke points to the circulation of capital. In today’s economy, the state has begun to redefine its “resilience” in terms of its relative success in the protection and expansion of critical infrastructure. We find that there has been a political re-organization of governing authority over Indigenous peoples in Canada as a result, which is driven by greater integration of the private sector as national security “partners.” The securitization of “critical infrastructure”—essentially, supply chains of capital, such as private pipelines and public transport routes—has become the priority in mitigating the potential threat of Indigenous jurisdiction. New political and socio-temporal imperatives have led to shifts in risk evaluation, management, and mitigation practices of state administration, in cooperation with the private sector, to neutralize Indigenous disruption to supply chain infrastructure. In this paper, we examine two forms of risk mitigation: first, the configuration of Indigenous jurisdiction as a “legal risk” by the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; and second, the configuration of Indigenous jurisdiction as a source of potential “emergency.” Built on the literal ground of historical patterns of land grabs and migration, logistical space configures new networks of infrastructure into circuitries of production (Cowen, 2014) that cast into vivid relief the imperfections of settler sovereignty and the justly vital systems of Indigenous law.

Keywords: logistics, critical infrastructure, Indigenous jurisdiction, security, resilience, law, Canada, risk, emergency, settler colonialism

Originally published by Cultural Anthropology, December 22, 2016.

Link: https://culanth.org/fieldsights/1022-deedsnotwords-a-national-day-of-water-protection-solidarity-north-of-the-medicine-line

It started with a call from the east. Cheryl Maloney, a Mi’kmaqi land defender, was watching the expansion of the resistance camp at Standing Rock. She sent a message to the Defenders of the Land network, writing, “With the Dakota Access Pipeline protest in the middle of Turtle Island, Site C Dam in the West, and soon-to-be-active resistance to Alton Gas and turbines in the Bay of Fundy on the East Coast . . . we should do an international day of actions for water. It’s time to call the four directions.” The women’s committee of the Defenders of the Land network responded, and the day of actions was set for Canadian Thanksgiving Day.

(Read more…)

Shiri Pasternak, “The Fiscal Body of Sovereignty: To ‘Make Live’ in Indian Country,” Settler Colonial Studies Vol. 6, Issue 4 (2016), forthcoming Winter 2016.

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Abstract

Fiscal relations between the state and Indigenous peoples in Canada are a matter of life and death. By bringing to light techniques of economic rationality and governance of Indigenous peoples, this paper demonstrates a vital, yet overlooked trajectory in an ongoing colonial war. I examine specifically how Canada investigated and intentionally distorted Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s band finances as a way to discredit her demands that governments respect her community’s treaty rights. Further, I will analyze how these economic mechanisms and discourses functioned to ‘settle’ Indigenous territorial demands for self-determination in order for states and private industry to gain valuable access to Indigenous lands and resources. A multi-million dollar De Beers diamond mine operates 90 kilometers west of the Attawapiskat reserve and serves as an important site for examining how colonial forms of fiscal warfare work. For the past two centuries, an expectation of ‘self-sufficiency’ has been demanded from Indigenous peoples in tension with state investment in the dispossession of Indigenous lands; this tension defines Crown-Indigenous fiscal relations to this day and has been amplified recently in public discourses demanding accountability and transparency from Indigenous peoples while simultaneously decrying their dependency on the state. These discourses have developed in distinct relation to the conjoined historical and structural imperatives of settler colonial governance: territorial possession and resource access. I propose that by surveying the recent economic history of a resource periphery such as Attawapiskat First Nation, we may examine the kinds of power invested and produced in governing the lives and deaths of Indigenous peoples in Canada today.

Pasternak, S., “How Capitalism Will Save Colonialism: The Privatization of Reserve Lands in Canada.” Antipode, Volume 47, Issue 1, pages 179–196, January 2015.

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Abstract

This paper surveys the ways in which the First Nations Property Ownership Act (FNPOA) is the site of both tension and alliance between state, non-state, and local Indigenous interests converging around a common agenda of land “modernization” in Canada. It is a convergence, I argue, that must be read in the context of a reorganization of society under neoliberalism. The FNPOA legislation is discursively framed to acknowledge Indigenous land rights while the bill simultaneously introduces contentious measures to individualize and municipalize the quasi-communal land holding of reserves. The intersections of alliance around this land modernization project foreground the complex ways in which capitalism and colonialism, though inextricably tied, perform distinguishable economic processes, and how we must be attentive to the particulars of their co-articulation with local formations of indigeneity.

View the full text here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1111/anti.12094/asset/anti12094.pdf?v=1&t=i58dkdeo&s=4e87e60fdc1c80036a750a11f2ccc1d7a968e12f

Pasternak, S. “Jurisdiction and Settler Colonialism: Where Laws Meet,” Special Issue: Law & Decolonization, Canadian Journal of Law and Society. Volume 29 / Special Issue 02 / August 2014, pp 145-161

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Abstract

To engage in the question of what it means to decolonize law, we must ask by what authority a law has the authority to be invoked and to govern. In this paper, I describe the conditions necessary for the exercise of Canadian law as being the work of jurisdiction, and I call into question Canada’s legality and legitimacy in making jurisdictional claims. Decolonizing law means deconstructing the state’s grounds to inaugurate law on lands acquired through colonial settlement. By critically examining law’s geography and scope I call into question the modern definition of territory itself. Further, I draw attention to jurisdiction as a conceptual framework for understanding the specificities of settler colonialism; illustrate jurisdiction as a historical concept, distinct from territory and sovereignty; and show some of the ways in which jurisdiction is enacted to govern across multiple scales and issues.

Link: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9303990&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0829320114000052

Shiri Pasternak, Sue Collis, Tia Dafnos. “Criminalization at Tyendinaga: Securing Canada’s Colonial Property Regime through Specific Land Claims,” Canadian Journal of Law and Society, May 2013: 1-17.

[Winner, 2013 Best Article, Canadian Law and Society Association]

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Abstract

Drawing on unpublished material on the history of the Culbertson Tract, records obtained through access to information requests, and firsthand knowledge from the community, we trace Mohawk legal and extralegal strategies aimed at reclaiming the Tract to show how Canada legitimizes and manages the continued dispossession of land from the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. Through the criminalization of community members opposing settlement terms under the land claims policy, we conclude that the policy of extinguishment contained in the land claims policy is furthered by policing resistance with the use of security forces on the ground.

Link: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8913454

Shiri Pasternak. “Book Review: Tom Flanagan, Christopher Alacantra, and André Le Dressay. Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010,” Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 30:2, Winter 2010, 424-25.

Pasternak, S., Lorenzo Magzul and Nancy Turner, “Born from Bears and Corn: Why Indigenous Knowledge Matters in the Debate about Genetically Engineered Food.” Gene Taboos: Religious Attitudes to Genetically Modified Food, Harold Coward and Conrad Brunk, eds. (New York: SUNY Press, 2009).

Link: http://www.sunypress.edu/p-4870-acceptable-genes.aspx

Pasternak, S. and David Wachsmuth, “Use It or Lose It: Toronto’s ‘Use It or Lose It’ Campaign for Affordable Housing.” Critical Planning Journal 15, 2008.

[Winner – Soja Prize for Best Essay]

Abstract

The city of Toronto is suffering from ‘abandonment issues’. A campaign of the same name seeks to help address the city’s housing crisis through the introduction of a Use It or Lose It bylaw that would see abandoned buildings expropriated and converted to affordable housing. This article discusses the campaign, suggesting that the introduction of a municipal bylaw has radical potential to address the basic need for shelter. It describes a social approach to defining ‘abandonment’ and argues that abandoned spaces can be used to challenge the North American private property regime, using Abandonment Issues as a case study.

Link: http://luskin.ucla.edu/content/volume-15

Cadgrages Journal, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, August 2007.

Abstract

This essay brings to light a relationship between the colonial doctrine of discovery and patents on life today. By tracing the doctrine of discovery, the assignment of terra nullius, and  the development of the discourse of improvement, this essay aims to show the ways in which indigenous people’s relationship to nature has been defined and circumscribed by terms of “vacant lands” and “raw seeds” in attempt to justify the denial of pre-existing Aboriginal ownership of land and knowledge in North America and around the world.

Link: http://www.omics-ethics.org/observatoire/cadrages/cadr2007/c_no33_07/ca_no33_07_01.html