Against Recognition

I’m reading Bourdieu today, but thinking about Glen Coulthard.

Here’s Bourdieu:

“All these facts invoke the logic of official nomination to institute socially guaranteed identities (as citizen, legal resident, voter, taxpayer, parent, property owner) as well as legitimate unions and groupings (families, associations, trade unions, parties, etc). By stating with authority what a being (thing or person) is in truth (verdict) according to its socially legitimate definition, that is what he or she is authorized to be, what he has a right (and duty) to be, the social being that he may claim, the State wields a genuinely creative, quasi-divine, power” (12).

And Coulthard:

“the reproduction of a colonial structure of dominance like Canada’s rests on its ability to entice Indigenous peoples to come to identify, either implicitly or explicitly, with the profoundly asymmetrical and non-reciprocal forms of recognition either imposed on or granted to them by the colonial-state and society” (439).

The work, of course, is to see that the politics of recognition can only ever reinforce “socially legitimate definitions.”  And, to find different ways of authorizing social and collective definitions (or to refuse authority altogether as part of the problem).

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