Alejandra Mancilla (University of Oslo): "Decolonizing Antarctica"

Wed, Nov 13, 2019, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Location: 
Lewis Library, Room 120
Audience: 
Free And Open To The Public

ABSTRACT: It has become a trope in the field of Antarctic humanities that the history of Antarctica was no exception to world politics (as once thought), but just another instance of the colonial project at the global level. However, the wrongs of colonialism are normally tied to the subjugation of native populations, and in Antarctica there were none. So what is wrong with Antarctic colonialism? In this article, I point to three such wrongs: first, the unilateral appropriation by a few states of extravagant expanses of land, in a context where the finitude of land and resources worldwide was already well-known; second, the constitution of a political system (i.e. the Antarctic Treaty) where the majority of those who should have been consulted were not; and third, the maintenance of a system where not all members are treated under equal and reciprocal terms. I then give some suggestions to decolonize Antarctica, address one key objection, and conclude.

Alejandra Mancilla is associate professor of practical philosophy at the University of Oslo. After graduating from the Universidad Católica de Chile, she gained her Ph.D. in philosophy from the Australian National University,. She is currently leadings a three-year project funded by the Polar Program of the Research Council of Norway, entitled Political Philosophy Looks to Antarctica, which seeks to analyze—among other things—the moral grounds of claims to land and natural resources in the last uninhabited continent. Her other major area of interest is the connection between moral cosmopolitanism, global poverty and human rights. In her book, The Right of Necessity, she asks what it is morally permissible for the needy to do for themselves and by themselves in order to get out of their chronically deprived situations.

Jennifer Jacquet is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at NYU. She works on transboundary environmental problems, and has an ongoing project related to high seas fisheries. Recent Antarctic-related research includes “‘Rational use’ in Antarctic waters” in Marine Policy (2016), "High seas fisheries play a negligible role in addressing global food security” in Science Advances (2018), and “Watch over Antarctic Waters” in Nature (2018).

Peter Singer will chair.