Eve Tuck on Academia, Settler Harm Reduction, and Decolonization


“We don’t intend to discourage those who have dedicated careers and lives to teaching themselves and others to be critically conscious of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, xenophobia, and settler colonialism. We are asking them/you to consider how the pursuit of critical consciousness, the pursuit of social justice through a critical enlightenment, can also be settler moves to innocence – diversions, distractions, which relieve the settler of feelings of guilt or responsibility, and conceal the need to give up land or power or privilege.
Anna Jacobs’ 2009 Master’s thesis explores the possibilities for what she calls white harm reduction models. Harm reduction models attempt to reduce the harm or risk of specific practices. Jacobs identifies white supremacy as a public health issue that is at the root of most other public health issues. The goal of white harm reduction models, Jacobs says, is to reduce the harm that white supremacy has had on white people, and the deep harm it has caused non-white people over generations. Learning from Jacobs’ analysis, we understand the curricularpedagogical project of critical consciousness as settler harm reduction, crucial in the resuscitation of practices and intellectual life outside of settler ontologies. (Settler) harm reduction is intended only as a stopgap. As the environmental crisis escalates and peoples around the globe are exposed to greater concentrations of violence and poverty, the need for settler harm reduction is acute, profoundly so. At the same time we remember that, by definition, settler harm reduction, like conscientization, is not the same as decolonization and does not inherently offer any pathways that lead to decolonization.”
-Eve Tuck, Decolonization is not a metaphor

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