Cacophonous Settler Grounded Normativity: Interrelationality with the More-Than-Human World as a Path for Decolonial Transformation

Benjamin Kapron, 2016
Vol.22 No. 16 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)


This paper proposes settler grounded normativity as a path for transforming understandings of relationships, so that settlers might become better able to engage in decolonization. The term
‘grounded normativity’ comes from Coulthard (2014). I define grounded normativity as understanding that: (1) humans are interrelated with the more-than-human world; (2)
interrelationality demands that humans develop ethical relationships with others; and (3) these ethical relationships can be learned and enacted through engagement with the more-than-human
world. Settler grounded normativity puts an additional focus on understanding interrelatedness with settler colonialism and how to transform settler/Indigenous relations in pursuit of ethics and justice. The three chapters of this paper reflect the three tenets of grounded normativity. Chapter One surveys Indigenous accounts of interrelationality, as well as examples of where
interrelationality continues to undergird Western understandings. Chapter One also addresses where settlers and Indigenous peoples remain interrelated with settler colonialism. Chapter Two
is a theoretical analysis of how interrelationality demands ethical relations, considering identity, difference, and indistinction frameworks for ethical consideration developed by Calarco (2015). Chapter Two ultimately argues that interrelationality ought to be understood as demanding ethical relations through cacophony―a concept developed by Byrd (2011). Chapter Three argues
that settlers ought to pursue active roles in decolonization in order to enact ethical relations against settler colonialism. Chapter Three includes interviews with settlers engaging in
decolonial work, in order to explore questions regarding how settlers ought to participate in decolonization ethically and effectively. The paper closes by considering future work that needs
to be done to develop settler grounded normativity and preliminarily addresses how ethical relations might be learned and enacted through engagement with the more-than-human world.