Indigenous approaches to “Nature”: Insights at a time of Planetary Crisis

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Status: This talk has been cancelled

This lecture has been cancelled

A public lecture hosted by the Laudato Si’ Research Institute

This lecture will be relevant to anyone interested in indigenous cosmologies and cosmovisions, and their potential application to global society at this time of planetary crisis.

A limited number of places are available for in-person attendance at Campion Hall, University of Oxford. We are also glad to offer a professionally-produced livestream of the lecture.

Indigenous languages and cultures often fall victim to oversimplified judgments: sometimes, they are excessively romanticized; at other times, they are dismissed as primitive and superstitious.

However, a deeper inquiry reveals that indigenous peoples maintain a highly complex and nuanced understanding of the human-nature relationship. Indeed, this has the potential to inform our own (western) situation at this time of planetary crisis.

The lecture will explore indigenous peoples’ understanding of the natural world. On the one hand, Nature is acknowledged as a parent: life-giving, nurturing, caring and protecting. On the other hand, Nature is seen as a fearsome, unpredictable and capricious force. Through mythologies, rituals and social practices, Nature is both revered, but also feared, shunned and even “hated”. These two sides are often personified and projected onto spiritual beings and cosmologies. Such conceptualisations shape how indigenous peoples relate to each other in familial, social and cultural units, and how they function with respect to their environmental situation.

By analysing these understandings, the lecture will show how indigenous worldviews are based on relational values of love, care, fear and awe. These values can inform western epistemologies, worldviews and policy approaches, especially in light of the challenges of the global socio-ecological crisis.

Dr Vijay D’Souza, Integral Ecology Visiting Fellow at the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, will approach this topic with reference to critical analysis of indigenous languages, cultures and worldviews in Northeast India, where he has worked for nearly two decades.