Informal Session: Connecting Wealth and Space: Environmental Intimacy Working Against Capitalism
Organizers: Carolyn Howarter and Aolani Kailihou
This session seeks to explore the intersection of notions of wealth and people’s relationships to space in order to contribute to goals of strengthening indigenous economic systems, providing strategies for combatting capitalism, and in teaching new generations the multifaceted importance of cultural knowledge of space.
We want to look broadly at wealth and how indigenous concepts are layered together with colonial-capitalist notions of wealth. For example, we consider embodied wealth, textile collections, networks of relations, food, money, property, houses, cultural pride, and more. We seek to understand how these different wealth systems work together and are impacted by people’s presence in or outside of their homeland, their connections to home spaces, and their environmental knowledge. The assumption is that a deeper local environmental knowledge is connected to more indigenous understandings of wealth and that alienation from land and home spaces contributes to the embrace of capitalistic values. However, there are many complicating and contributing factors to explore, principally that people are never living within purely indigenous or purely capitalist worlds, that there are degrees of connection and alienation, and people move between spaces constantly. While the idea of alienation is central to capitalism, we are principally concerned with how this applies to space, rather than products or means of production. Finally, we are interested in this topic with a particular ethos of community-building and want to explore practical applications of indigenous wealth systems and spatial knowledge in order to bolster Pacific communities and to help counter the negative cultural impacts of capitalism more broadly.
Carolyn Howarter, University of Virginia, <email@example.com>