Tracing the motherline : Earth Elders, decolonising worldview, and planetary futurity.

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Theses / Dissertations
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Doctor of Philosophy
University of Canterbury
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Sepie, Amba Jessida

On Earth Day in 1970, at the birth of the global environmental movement, it looked like there was hope. Almost half a century later, as we contemplate the Anthropocene, it appears that our hope may have been misplaced. Year by year, the socioecological issues afflicting our planet have only worsened under the direction of westernised corporate and governmental powers. Perhaps it is time for a culture change?

This thesis proposes that the contemporary socioecological concerns humans share regarding our collective future hinges upon a renewal of our Earth ethic. I take indigenous and traditional voices seriously, and in doing so, collate some very old advice for how to live well with each other and Earth. Following their advice, I recommend that humans without secure cultural and ecological context apprentice to Elder guidance, as offered from their multiple, yet emplaced, positions with/in indigenous and traditional Earth minded land bases and cultures. Many Elders recommend that humans reindigenise to Earth in specifically emplaced ways, by committing to some worldview concepts that are very different from those that westernised peoples are accustomed to. Traditional and indigenous Elders, teachings, and elements of worldview conceive of the human being as a responsive, moral, intuitive, perceptive, and instinctual being that is a part of a complex web of kincentric relations. Respectful engagement with Elder wisdom, long ignored, is our first step.

In pursuing planetary futurity, I engage with these voices in order to trace a path toward a renewed Earth community. Traditional human values of respect, responsibility, reciprocity, redistribution, and reverence, as based upon relationships, can be reignited as guiding principles in our communities, but only if we engage in processes of unlearning and remembering who we are as humans. To this end, I outline a framework for worldview transformation, as a component of necessary decolonisation and rematriation processes.

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