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Many of these notions of consent look decidedly odd. In the case of social-contract theories, the “agreement” is almost always entirely notional. There is no moment at which people actually manifest their consent. Similar problems afflict the consent invoked in more communitarian theories, where the will of the community is said to be inherent in its traditions, culture, or nationhood.
Theories of consent have also been vulnerable to critical examination of the impact of power and inequality, the existence of a pre-determined structure of options, and implicit presumptions as to the characteristics of the agent who is giving their “consent”.
This workshop will consider consent as the foundation for political community, examining the theories’ shortcomings. But it will also explore reasons for the widespread reliance on consent. What accounts for this reliance? Is it all a charade, or does the invocation of consent speak to important aspects of human agency in community? Are there more adequate ways of expressing this role for human agency?
Indigenous Communities and
Those relations occur in contexts where the language of consent bulks large. They generate disputes about the mechanisms for collective consent both within indigenous and non-indigenous societies and in relations across the divide. They are marked by examples of interaction and acculturation without explicit acts of will. And they concern nations in which concepts other than consent – culture, tradition, inherent nationhood, etc – have explicitly competed with or displaced consensual union as the foundation of political community.
It is an especially fruitful context in which the challenges of consent can be explored. This theoretical reflection should in turn help to clarify how one conceives of and constructs processes of indigenous/non-indigenous interaction.