Botanical decolonization: Rethinking native plants

Tomaz Mastnak, Julia Elyachar, Tom Boellstorff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In this paper we use an apparently marginal topic-'native plants'-to address two issues of concern to contemporary politics and political theory: the legacy of settler colonialism, and dilemmas of scholarship and activism in the 'Anthropocene'. Drawing on the writings of Francis Bacon and based on a case study of California, we argue that planting and displanting humans and plants are elements of the same multispecies colonial endeavor. In contrast to those who equate native plant advocates with anti-immigrant nativism, we see native plant advocacy as part of a broad process of botanical decolonization and a strategic location for ethical action in the Anthropocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-380
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


  • Anthropocene
  • Colonialism
  • Decolonization
  • Ecology
  • Native plants


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