News About Layla AbdelRahim

Questioning Social Narratives - interview with Layla AbdelRahim

  • Oct 23, 2018 |

    Layla AbdelRahim is an anthropologist by training, and has lived, worked and traveled around the world. She speaks widely and has written two non-fiction books, Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams (Fernwood Publishing, 2013), and Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness (Routledge, 2015). Her books and other work actively critique the foundational social narratives that support a human-centered view of the natural world and that compel people to perpetrate and acquiesce to oppression. This interview was conducted by Eric Garza, University of Vermont, for "A Worldview Apart" podcast.

    From Children's Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness:

    On Colonization:

    "[T]he process of colonization begins with the ontological conception of ownership of land and resources, which leads to a sedentary system of extraction of labour, flesh, and essence from an environment that does not constitute one’s community or land base. In this symbiotic system, the parasite constructs the world as alien and devises effective systems of exploitation, ownership, and control that allow the parasite in absentia to consume energy in a one-way flow. To succeed in this project, civilization developed technologies to facilitate exploitation by proxy of places and entities whom the breeder, owner, and exploiter may not necessarily see, know,19 touch, or hold.

    The first of these technologies is hence the technology of absence. In contrast to wilderness, where presence and empathy are critical for vitality, civilization functions on alienation and absence. This entails physical and emotional absence, but also includes a metaphysical dimension, since technological development is literally linked to death. Namely, the rise of hunting, i.e. killing of others for food, during the Upper Palaeolithic period in the Middle East led some human groups to develop hunting technologies. Palaeoanthropologist Clive Gamble (in Ingold, 1997; p. 94) connects this development in hunting technologies to colonization, while anthropologist Richard Lee (1988) links the appearance of human language to the rise in hunting activities. Hunting thus led to domestication, and both of these cultures of subsistence kill intentionally and on a systematic basis" (AbdelRahim, page 15).

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