Oct 26 2019

Lecture | Leonardo E. Figueroa Helland on Indigeneity, Biocultural Diversity and Decolonization beyond Anthropocene Extinctions

Sat | 4PM

Lecture | Leonardo E. Figueroa Helland on Indigeneity, Biocultural Diversity and Decolonization beyond Anthropocene Extinctions

On the occasion of Michael Wang: Extinct in New York, please join us at SI for a lecture by Leonardo E. Figueroa Helland, Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management at The New School. 

Figueroa Helland writes: “Indigenous communities customarily occupy about 20% of the planet’s total land surface; yet they protect and manage about 80% of Mother Earth’s remaining biodiversity. Indigenous community lands also house a major portion of the world’s terrestrial carbon (including a quarter of total forest carbon) while showing slower or no land degradation and deforestation. Actually, research shows that Indigenous peoples not only protect, but have also nurtured, restored and even enhanced the biodiversity and climate change mitigation potential of ecosystems. Indigenous practices, knowledges and cosmovisions are rooted in thousands of years of intimate relations to their land bases, and are finally being acknowledged as “keystone cultures” with an indispensable role in sustaining, revitalizing and increasing biodiversity and ecosystem functions by creatively introducing subtle modifications that mimic and extend natural processes. In doing so Indigenous peoples draw on millennia of complex, situated, and locally-attuned land-based and place-making practices aimed at nurturing or ‘curating’ landscapes of rich ecosystem biodiversity with a view to ensure the cyclical regeneration of life as a whole. Given the key role of Indigenous peoples in nurturing both biological and cultural diversity (biocultural diversity), addressing the Anthropocene’s climate and mass extinction crises requires decolonization, including Indigenous knowledge revitalization and the return of lands to their ancestral Indigenous caretakers.”

Please RSVP to rsvp@swissinstitute.net. Please note: events at Swiss Institute are limited capacity, and entry is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Leonardo E. Figueroa Helland is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Policy at The New School. His work underlines how Indigenous resurgence, decolonization and the revitalization of biocultural diversity, alongside social, environmental and climate justice movements, are key to overcoming planetary crises. His latest writings appear in the Journal of World Systems Research, the journal Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, the volume on Social Movements and World-System Transformation, and the forthcoming volume on Anarchist Political Ecology. His current projects include a manuscript on Indigeneity and the Anthropocene. He leads the Indigeneity and Sustainability section of the Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School, and co-convenes the Latin American Observatory of the Humanities for the Environment.

Image credit: Xochitl Enriquez, Jeff Slim, Kim Smith, Angel Diaz, Averian Chee, and members of the Cyphers Center for Urban Art. Co-hosted by the following organizations: Estria Foundation; Black Mesa Water Coalition, Tonatierra, PUENTE, The Phoenix Revitalization Corporation, The Valley Youth Theater, and the Downtown Phoenix PartnershipSource.

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