Below is an abstract for my dissertation, followed by a breif description of forthcoming monograph.

In my dissertation, Toward a Discourse on Recreational Colonialism: Critically Engaging the Haunted Spaces of Outdoor Recreation on the Colorado Plateau, I interrogate the ways in which place-based belongings are constituted through outdoor recreation. I apply theories of rhetoric to spaces of outdoor recreation on the Colorado Plateau such as the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, rock climbing landscapes in the Navajo Nation, adventure mountain biking practices that trace a 19th century stagecoach route, and ultra running trails connecting ancient Hopi footpaths, and elsewhere. Drawing on spatial and environmental rhetoric and critical theories of race, gender, and sexuality, I analyze affective investments in white settler colonialism to argue that such spaces are more than recreational. The framework I have developed to better explain such spaces, Recreational Colonialism, is at the center of my book manuscript which has been invited for consideration in a series called Radical Natures, co-published with West Virginia University Press. The series is oriented toward activists, teachers, and scholars.

Below is a short abstract of this book,

Working title: Recreational Colonialism: White Settler Colonialism in Spaces of Outdoor Recreation

Under contract with West Virginia University Press

“We are caught up in one another, we who live in settler societies, and our interrelationships inform all that these societies touch.”[1] Scott Morgensen

native horses bicyclesThis book interrogates the ways in which place-based belongings are constituted through outdoor recreation, and is first and foremost motivated by a growing need for those who benefit from whiteness as a racial identity marker to pay attention to and learn to recognize the simple and complex ways in which they perform, accommodate, and sustain the systems upon which white settler colonialism relies on to maintain itself in the every day, in seemingly innocent ways, like outdoor recreation.

Use of the term “setter-colonialism” has gained much attention in the last decade, because of its specific applications to circumstances where colonists have never left, whereby colonialism is ongoing. While engaging with the intersections of identity is crucial to postcolonial theory, I deploy the term “white settler colonialism” because of how explicitly it places, not just whiteness or white supremacy as the focus of critique but also, and simultaneously, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy. Though the two terms (post colonialism and settler colonialism) “intertwine, interact, and overlap,” white settler colonialism is a process that is “regenerative” and “situational” (Veracini 3). It is also, therefore, rhetorical, and can more appropriately be deployed to describe the nuances of performance and identity inherent to the context of outdoor recreation.

SBKachinaMethodologically, I interrogate what is believed to be “natural” or “wilderness” spaces as texts, imbued with cultural scripts, coded with meaning that is written and rewritten, often reinforcing asymmetrical relations of power. In doing so, I employ an understanding of rhetoric that links the material, the physical landscapes in which we engage, with discourse. To employ what material feminists, such as Karen Barad, refer to as material-discursive is to understand rhetorical practices like outdoor recreation as affective, which is to say that discourse produces the physical landscape as surely as it is produced by it. By applying material-discursive theories of rhetoric to multiple spaces of outdoor recreation, in a national and global context, I examine the affective relationships between those practices, landscapes, and cultures. Drawing on spatial and environmental rhetoric and critical theories of race, class, gender, and sexuality, I analyze affective investments in white settler colonialism to argue that such spaces are more than recreational. The framework this book develops to better explain such spaces, Recreational Colonialism, positions outdoor recreation as a new language of colonialism. Recreational Colonialism is both a discourse and a performance that connect outdoor recreational discourses to a trifecta of oppression through which white settler colonialism depends: white supremacy, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy.

klee + princessAs I deploy the term “white settler colonialism” in this book, I agree with Morgensen that the term is a “tactic for drawing white people to address white-supremacist settler colonialism multidimensionally” (“White Settlers”). After all, when white settlers first arrived on this continent, they didn’t just bring themselves to take up space. They brought their communities, cultures, histories, values, and norms. They brought and rigidly enforced their understanding of “nature,” of sexuality, of what it means to belong to a gender, a race, and a class. They brought their own ideas of independence, and of virtue. They instilled upon the landscape their own ideas of property ownership, which reflects a particular notion of land ethics. European colonization, however, was not an event; it was and still is, an ongoing process. It happens every day, from the largest reaching policy decisions that result in forced removal, theft of resources, and the poisoning of aquifers to every day performances that sustain and accommodate those reinforcing supremacist systems. All of these ways of thinking and being in the world—although cast as an imaginary—have tangible, wide reaching, and fundamental affects.

 

[1] See Morgensen, Spaces Between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization, p 1.

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