Publication Date

April 2018


Jennifer Tucker


Science in Society


English (United States)


Ecological restoration is a practice that aims to actively heal and rehabilitate ecosystems from past material trauma or degradation. In a post-wild world, however, places are fundamentally relational entities, both natural and cultural simultaneously; they constitute and are constituted by human and more-than-human relationships. Therefore, restoration projects in the United States are inevitably responding to multiple and often conflicting, narratives of place, all intrinsically tied to the project of settler colonialism. In my analysis of two restoration projects on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State ?the Elwha River Restoration Project and the Moses Prairie Restoration Project? I argue that efforts to restore these places involve renegotiating human relationships that constitute and are constituted by the environment as well as settler colonialism. I highlight how these projects challenge, uphold, and reconsider the settler colonial logics governing social and material life. Furthermore, I consider how ecological restoration can be an empowering tool towards ?decolonizing? land management practices, promoting naturecultural ecologies that actively support Indigenous sovereignty and autonomy. My analysis of these projects seeks to elucidate the ways in which the ?restoring? happening in these projects holds not only the possibility partially healing ecosystem function, but also of reengaging and recalibrating relationships in place. I conclude by proposing a decolonizing ecological restoration praxis that seeks to unsettle settler futurity for the sake of Indigenous resurgence.



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