Plant Provocations: Botanical Indigeneity and (De)colonial Imaginations
This paper examines the possibilities and limitations of an emergent global discourse of indigeneity to offer an oppositional praxis in the face of the depredations of settler colonialism in post-apartheid South Africa. Self-conscious articulations of indigeneity, we argue, reveal the fraught relationship between increasingly hegemonic and narrow understandings of the indigenous and the carceral logic of apartheid. We examine this by focusing on the meanings and attachments forged through indigenous plants in two realms: the world of indigenous gardening practised by white suburban dwellers and that of subsistence farming undertaken by rural black women. This juxtaposition reveals that in contrast to the pervasive resurrection of colonial time that defines metropolitan indigenous gardening, the social relations of a subsistence cultivator challenge the confines of colonial temporality, revealing a creative mode of dissent structured around dreams, ancestral knowledge, and the commons. Our exploration of struggles around botanical indigeneity suggests that anticolonial modes of indigeneity do not necessarily inhere in recognisable forms and that studies of the indigenous need to proceed beyond those that bear familial resemblance to emergent global understandings.