Doing Time in the Colonized City: Indigenous Youth Solidarities in the ‘Vivid Present’

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Joanna KIDMAN, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Colonization has fundamentally changed the shape and experience of time for indigenous youth. In public discourse, settler-colonial society is characterized as moving progressively towards a united, equitable and just future for all its citizens. Native youth experiences of the colonial state are largely absorbed into redemptive storylines of nationhood that take for granted that the harshest injustices of the settler past are resolved and that they shall, accordingly, derive a sense of national belonging as indigenous citizens in a shared future.

For indigenous Māori youth in New Zealand, creating a ‘vivid present’, what Alfred Schütz referred to as a collective experience of time tied to both past and future, requires that they step outside these colonizing narratives into different sites of temporality where Māori time-space perceptions take precedence. In these sites, time-space relationships are shaped around intergenerational collective memories of colonization, invasion and dispersal/landlessness but they are also spaces where indigenous solidarities and communities of cultural resistance are established.

This paper is concerned with the chronopolitics of Māori young people’s lives in the racialized spaces of the settler-colonial city. Drawing on a study about young people’s hopes and fears about the future, we examine how three groups of urban Māori youth living precariously at the economic margins navigate competing temporal frames of reference. We focus on how they mobilize and deploy ‘native time’ to imagine an extended range of possible futures for themselves that would otherwise limited by the urban ‘clock-time’ of the colonial nation state.

The social lives of indigenous youth are under-theorized in much sociological research but we argue that these kinds of studies have the potential to disrupt white temporalities and activate a broader range of thinking about alternative indigenous futures.