Re-enchanting our senses
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SEMINAR: Introduction to a decolonial approach to Ireland's ancient culture and landscapes
The seminar is be centred on discussions around the ways in which colonial modernity (as the world system we live within) has disenchanted the world and disconnected humanity from the concept of ‘nature’. In Western colonial culture, ‘nature’ is seen to be out there beyond society, away from humans, as something to be managed and controlled either for resources, development, or conservation. Breaking down this illusion that we are somehow separate from nature, or the land, is a critical task at this juncture for us as a species as we face the growing material realities of our own extinction driven by the unsustainability of our sociopolitical present. Climate breakdown and the global pandemic of COVID-19 have made the deep instability of modern life ever more apparent, with both of these processes being by-products of how global colonial culture treats ‘nature’. As our ancestors’ lifeways were inherently more ‘sustainable’ than ours, establishing a reconnective relationship with them may serve us well as a creative process for re-establishing the community that once existed between people and the living world. This is not to seek a return to the past, but to build from ancient wisdoms in order to shape a society based on values that fundamentally respect and love the Earth and all of the more-than-human worlds around us. In Ireland we are fortunate to have a rich and ancient cultural heritage that has not been so completely lost to the storm of progress and development. We have a choice in how we deal with our ancestral cosmologies: they are not elusive, dead, nor irrelevant. We can position ourselves as part of a continuing ancestral story in dialogue with the many other stories of the land. The task is to find ways of navigating out of harmful modern/colonial thought processes, and remember the ways of attuning our senses to the land through ancestral wisdom.