Indigenous, Modern and Postcolonial Relations to Nature: Negotiating the Environment, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Indigenous, Modern and Postcolonial Relations to Nature

Negotiating the Environment, 1st Edition

By Angela Roothaan


162 pages

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pub: 2019-06-11
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Indigenous, Modern and Postcolonial Relations to Nature contributes to the young field of intercultural philosophy by introducing the perspective of critical and postcolonial thinkers who have focused on systematic racism, power relations and the intersection of cultural identity and political struggle.

Angela Roothaan discusses how initiatives to tackle environmental problems cross-nationally are often challenged by economic growth processes in postcolonial nations and further complicated by fights for land rights and self-determination of indigenous peoples. For these peoples, survival requires countering the scramble for resources and clashing with environmental organizations that aim to bring their lands under their own control. The author explores the epistemological and ontological clashes behind these problems. This volume brings more awareness of what structurally obstructs open exchange in philosophy world-wide, and shows that with respect to nature, we should first negotiate what the environment is to us humans, beyond cultural differences. It demonstrates how a globalizing philosophical discourse can fully include epistemological claims of spirit ontologies, while critically investigating the exclusive claim to knowledge of modern science and philosophy.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of environmental philosophy, cultural anthropology, intercultural philosophy and postcolonial and critical theory.


"Roothaan’s Indigenous, Modern and Postcolonial Relations to Nature takes a fresh approach to dialogue between modern Western and indigenous or traditional approaches to nature. She neither insists that non-Western environmentalisms follow Western science before dialogue can begin, nor does she turn non-Western approaches to nature into a version of Romanticism. This book will be of interest to African philosophers and other non-Western philosophers, intercultural philosophers, environmental humanists, anthropologists, postcolonial studies scholars, and many others."

Bruce Janz, Department of Philosophy and Center for Humanities & Digital Research, University of Central Florida

"Dr Roothaan’s inspiring quest for an intercultural rendering of human relations to nature challenges the modernist epistemological monopoly. Arguing convincingly that indigenous systems of knowledge are equally viable, this book shows how they provide promising models for a negotiation of the environment in this era of global environmental threats."

Dr Pius Mosima, University of Bamenda, Cameroon

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

  1. A World of Motion and Emergence: an Outline of what’s at stake
  2. Ending the Othering of Indigenous Knowledge in Philosophy and the Ontological Turn in Cultural Anthropology
  3. When the Spirits were banned: Kant versus Swedenborg
  4. The Return of (animal) Spirits in the Modern Western World
  5. Deconstructing or Decolonizing the Human–Animal Divide
  6. Vital Force: A Belgico-African Missionary’s Spirited Philosophy
  7. Decolonizing Nature: the Case of the Mourning Elephants
  8. Spirited Trees – Negotiating secular, religious and traditionalist frameworks
  9. Blurred, Spirited and Touched: from ‘the Study of Man’ to an Anim(al)istic Anthropology



About the Author

Angela Roothaan is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Faculty of Humanities at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on African intercultural philosophy, philosophy of values and spirit ontologies. She has published books (in Dutch) on Spinoza, on nature in ethics, on truth, on spirituality and on ghosts/spirits in modern culture. Together with P. Nullens and S. van den Heuvel she published the edited volume Theological Ethics and Moral Value Phenomena: The Experience of Values (Routledge, 2017). Her philosophical blog can be found here:

About the Series

Routledge Environmental Humanities

From microplastics in the sea to hyper-trends such as global climate change, mega-extinction, and widening social disparities and displacement, we live on a planet undergoing tremendous flux and uncertainty. At the center of this transformation is human culture, both contributing to the state of the world and responding to planetary change. The Routledge Environmental Humanities Series seeks to engage with contemporary environmental challenges through the various lenses of the humanities and to explore foundational issues in environmental justice, multicultural environmentalism, ecofeminism, environmental psychology, environmental materialities and textualities, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, environmental communication and information management, multispecies relationships, and related topics. The series is premised on the notion that the arts, humanities, and social sciences, integrated with the natural sciences, are essential to comprehensive environmental studies.

The environmental humanities are a multidimensional discipline encompassing such fields as anthropology, history, literary and media studies, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, and women’s and gender studies; however, the Routledge Environmental Humanities is particularly eager to receive book proposals that explicitly cross traditional disciplinary boundaries, bringing the full force of multiple perspectives to illuminate vexing and profound environmental topics. We favor manuscripts aimed at an international readership and written in a lively and accessible style. Our readers include scholars and students from across the span of environmental studies disciplines and thoughtful citizens and policy makers interested in the human dimensions of environmental change.

Please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan (, to submit proposals.

Praise for A Cultural History of Climate Change (2016):

A Cultural History of Climate Change shows that the humanities are not simply a late-arriving appendage to Earth System science, to help in the work of translation. These essays offer distinctive insights into how and why humans reason and imagine their ‘weather-worlds’ (Ingold, 2010). We learn about the interpenetration of climate and culture and are prompted to think creatively about different ways in which the idea of climate change can be conceptualised and acted upon beyond merely ‘saving the planet’.

Professor Mike Hulme, King's College London, in Green Letters

Series Editors:

Professor Scott Slovic, University of Idaho, USA

Professor Joni Adamson, Arizona State University, USA

Professor YUKI Masami, Kanazawa University, Japan

Previous editors:

Professor Iain McCalman, University of Sydney Research Fellow in History; Director, Sydney University Environment Institute.

Professor Libby Robin, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra; Guest Professor of Environmental History, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Sweden.

Dr Paul Warde, Reader in Environmental History, University of Cambridge, UK

Editorial Board

Christina Alt, St Andrews University, UK, Alison Bashford, University of New South Wales, Australia, Peter Coates, University of Bristol, UK, Thom van Dooren, University of New South Wales, Australia, Georgina Endfield, Liverpool UK, Jodi Frawley, University of Western Australia, Andrea Gaynor, The University of Western Australia, Australia, Christina Gerhardt, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, USA,□Tom Lynch, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA, Jennifer Newell, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia , Simon Pooley, Imperial College London, UK, Sandra Swart, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Ann Waltner, University of Minnesota, US, Jessica Weir, University of Western Sydney, Australia

International Advisory Board

William Beinart,University of Oxford, UK, Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago, USA, Paul Holm, Trinity College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Shen Hou, Renmin University of China, Beijing, Rob Nixon, Princeton University, USA, Pauline Phemister, Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, UK, Sverker Sörlin, KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, Helmuth Trischler, Deutsches Museum, Munich and Co-Director, Rachel Carson Centre, LMU Munich University, Germany, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University, USA, Kirsten Wehner, University of London, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecology
SCIENCE / Environmental Science