Indigenous resurgence, anthropological theory, and the cunning of history

in Focaal
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  • 1 Cornell University ts3@cornell.edu

Why has the recent period of global centralization of capital, from the 1970s to the present, also been a period of resurgence of indigenous movements and of forms of global civil society that have supported indigenous rights? This article argues that tackling this question can only be done by using concepts that emphasize what Hegel called the 'cunning' of history: the fact that the same historical process can on the one hand bring devastation to indigenous habitats and on the other hand create opportunities for political leverage by indigenous societies to gain recognition of the legitimacy of their different social, cultural, and economic systems within their ambient nation-states. Politically engaged anthropological theory, it seems, needs concepts that emphasize these contradictions—which in a nutshell means more Marx and less Foucault.

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Focaal

Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology

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