Decolonisation is a Political Project: Overcoming Impasses between Indigenous Sovereignty and Abolition

Andrew Curley, Pallavi Gupta, Lara Lookabaugh, Christopher Neubert, Sara Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In this article we seek to intervene in conversations that frame Black abolition and decolonisation as antagonistic political projects. We respond to Garba and Sorentino’s (2020) “Slavery is a metaphor”, which critiques Tuck and Yang (2012; “Decolonization is not a metaphor”) and decolonisation. Our concern is that scholarship in this vein denies Indigenous sovereignty and futurity while unnecessarily characterising decolonisation as antiblack. We contend that ontological, epistemological, and disciplinary traps lead to this problem: reductions, conflations, and taking settler-enslavers’ word as truth. We suggest that critiques of settler colonial studies shouldn’t be confused with the aims of Indigenous decolonisation, where the former is largely driven by white scholarship and the latter is an Indigenous-led project rooted in Indigenous epistemologies. We focus on questions of land and sovereignty, gesturing toward framings that are inclusive of Black, Native, and immigrant communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1043-1062
Number of pages20
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Black studies
  • Native studies
  • abolition
  • decolonisation
  • settler colonialism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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