ALIENATION: THE UNSETTLING STATE OF INDIGENOUS TRANSLOCALITY
SARS-CoV-19 has upended everyone’s lives. The world we once knew has become alien to us. Despite the upheaval, anthropologists and Indigenous communities are well-positioned to lead the transition in a post-COVID world. This current COVID crisis is less a reset moment and more a reckoning of the slow violence of colonialism. We have all endured a world alien to us this past year and many hope things will return to normal. COVID has laid bare the inequities of “normal” and the disorders inherent in New World ideologies.
It’s been 518 years since Amerigo Vespucci wrote his Mundus Novus letter (1503) inscribing the lands of the Indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere as the “New World.” This pernicious shibboleth has been recycled over the centuries to reinforce ideologies of discovery, conquest and erasure of Indigenous peoples and their ancestral worlds. Today, over 500 years of colonial/settler disorders are culminating in the self-inflicted slow violence of New World disorders such as global warming, rapacious capitalism, ongoing colonialism, and misguided globalization. These disorders contribute to unsettling translocal conditions prompting entire populations to grapple with an increasingly alien world.
How do we imagine moving forward? Anthropologists and Indigenous peoples have seen this before and developed collective strategies for remediating the centuries of forced Indigenous translocality. New World ideologies alienated Indigenous peoples from their ancestral worlds and for over a century, anthropologists worked together with Indigenous peoples to remediate the cartographies of erasure colonial/settler societies inflicted on the Indigenous peoples of the “New World”. We are poised to survive a New World Disorder and a fourth world anthropology can lead the way.