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The akkoub (Gundelia tournefortii) is a thistle-like plant so precious in Palestinian cuisine that it is often referred to as “green gold.” The risks, as well as the mystique, surrounding the akkoub have only intensified since the state of Israel designated this plant as protected under the Nature and Parks Protection Act. The story of the akkoub as depicted in this article illustrates the three tenets of “settler ecologies”: the regime of environmental protections enacted by the settler state that furthers its domination of the natural landscape and its dispossession of local and Indigenous communities. The first and fundamental tenet of settler ecologies is the juxtaposed mindset it seeks to advance: the entire ecological system is seen through a binary prism, recruiting living beings to what is portrayed as an all-encompassing ecological war. Second, settler ecologies are means of green dispossession, performed by both genocidal elimination and through the accumulation of natural capital. Colonialism and capitalism thus work through conservation to inflict violence on racialized populations, both human and nonhuman. Third and finally, settler ecologies operate through environmental law, its rigid definitions and categories of protection both enabling and regulating their ongoing governance through the ecological state. While ecologies are potent tools in the hands of the settler state, the story of “green gold” also demonstrates how ecological thought might present a way out of the colonial present toward decolonial ecologies.

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