Sociocracy in Cooperatives - Reactions to Decolonization is Not a Metaphor

As we revise our Co-op Aims to be more in line with SoFA’s Social Justice Statement, we are reflecting on how sociocracy and Social and Economic Justice relate to decolonization. I’d like to share a summary of a journal article that has been valuable to me, as well as my experience and gratitude with interacting with the article as a person with colonizer heritage.

I was first introduced to Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor (Eve Tuck and K Wayne Yang, 2012) in spring 2021, as part of a class called Sowing Post-Capitalist Seeds. Here is the intent of the paper, quoted from the abstract:

On the occasion of the inaugural issue of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, & Society, we want to be sure to clarify that decolonization is not a metaphor. When metaphor invades decolonization, it kills the very possibility of decolonization; it recenters whiteness, it resettles theory, it extends innocence to the settler, it entertains a settler future. Decolonize (a verb) and decolonization (a noun) cannot easily be grafted onto pre-existing discourses/frameworks, even if they are critical, even if they are anti-racist, even if they are justice frameworks.

I remember that the scope made me feel “seen” as an activist because before reading it, I had tried to understand post-capitalism through several decolonization metaphors, and I sensed that they fell short without understanding why. The authors’ careful explanations and context showed me how these metaphors allowed colonizers to deny accountability, and this opened up my curiosity to learn more.

I realized that I didn’t understand the differences between post-capitalism and decolonization, and I appreciated the authors’ comprehensive description of decolonization as the rematriation of indigenous land and life, and the abolition of slavery in all its forms. This names the relationship between land theft and enslavement. I wondered if the authors were in dialogue with practitioners of Transformative Justice (spoiler alert: yes). I searched online for Eve Tuck and found her 2016 Decolonizing Conference keynote speech, “Eve Tuck Says All the Things,” where she summarized five themes in their paper:

  • We’re bothered by the way [the metaphor of] decolonization is being used specifically in education, but also in other fields
  • Decolonization is distinct from other social justice projects, has different goals
  • Thus [decolonization] cannot be a simple add-on to existing [social justice] platforms
  • Decolonization is time and place specific

Continuing to follow my curiosity, I found another Eve Tuck project, The Henceforward, “a podcast that considers relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Black Peoples on Turtle Island.” The podcast was created out of a University of Toronto graduate class, “Decolonization, Settler Colonialism and Antiblackness.” The episodes are politically challenging and deeply personal. In several episodes, students share their visions for the “where and when” of decolonization and rematriation.


Eve Tuck and K Wayne Yang, Decolonization is Not a Metaphor (2012, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, Vol 1 Issue 1) Decolonization is not a metaphor | Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society

Moriah Helms and Anuradha Kowtha, Sowing Post-Capitalist Seeds

Eve Tuck Says All The Things, 2017 Eve Tuck Keynote - YouTube

The Henceforward, 2017-2020,

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