Sebastian De Line: Natura Interrupta: Beyond Nation State and the Island of Biogea

Advisor/tutor: Marina Vishmidt 

Arnhem, June 2016


My thesis addresses the question of how philosophies of difference could benefit from a turn away from Cartesian nature-culture, human-animal, wholly-other fractures in Western science- toward knowledge systems based on Indigenous science and philosophy. I believe it is essential to acknowledge Indigenous knowledge when producing knowledge within the Americas. Much has been said in contemporary discourse aiming at decolonialisation and yet, why is Western philosophy still prioritised? Indeed it is necessary to problematise Western, colonial legacies and structures, therefore settler academics act from a place of urgency in dismantling these systems from within. However, if these attempts at dismantling do not include emphasising, giving thanks to and promoting Indigenous thinking and voices, non-Western knowledge remains obscured, secondary and fetishised within and outside of academia.

The three tenets of Indigenous philosophical science, All My/Our Relations, provide a non-binary means for deconstructing the problematics of settler-dominated social contracts in the Americas. A comparison of Michel SerresThe Natural Contract (1) and Biogea (2) with the Haudenosaunee Code of Handsome Lake (3) outline how these contracts overlap and conflict with the works of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. Such dualistic thinking influences Canadian constitutional law, affecting the sovereignty of Indigenous nation states bound within its system, particularly having an impact on Indigenous youth and non-status women. Primitive accumulation is colonially contextualised through an empirical analysis of historical deforestation practices within Europe, a monopolisation on transnational export imposed by the British Navigation Act and simultaneous publication of Leviathan happening in 1651. The research methodology I use will largely be interdisciplinary, while ontological and epistemological data is approached in both an analytical and poetic way. The usage of poetics is akin to the narrative style of writing deployed by Serres. 

(1) Serres, Michel. The Natural Contract. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2011.

(2) Serres, Michel. Biogea. Minneapolis: Univocal Publishing, 2012.

(3) Parker, Arthur Caswell. The Code of Handsome Lake, The Seneca Prophet. London: Forgotten Books, 2008.