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Damaging Environments

Land, Settler Colonialism, and Security for Indigenous Peoples

Wilfrid Greaves

This article theorizes why Indigenous peoples’ security claims fail to be accepted by government authorities or incorporated into the security policies and practices of settler states. By engaging the concepts of securitization and ontological security, I explain how Indigenous peoples are unable to successfully “speak” security to the state. I argue that nondominant societal groups are unable to gain authoritative acceptance for security issues that challenge the dominant national identity. In effect, indigeneity acts an inhibiting condition for successful securitization because, by identifying the state and dominant society as the source of their insecurity, Indigenous peoples’ security claims challenge the ontological security of settler societies. Given the incommensurability of Indigenous and settler claims to authority over land, and the ontological relationship to land that underpins Indigenous identities and worldviews, the inhibiting condition is especially relevant with respect to security claims based on damage to the natural environment.

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Uliana Vinokurova

The article provides a review of various strategies the peoples of Siberia undertake to reestablish their identity, their cultural identity, and rights to their land. The article aims to analyze the modern challenges that the indigenous peoples of Siberia face and their responses to such challenges. The article presents five models of survival strategies used by the peoples of Siberia.

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Kirill Istomin

Existing explanations of the high rates of alcoholism and suicide among the numerically small indigenous peoples of the Russian North, Siberia, and the Russian Far East relate these social diseases to external factors such as state politics, or the economic, demographic, or socio-cultural situation. However, these reasons do not explain how exactly these factors influence the consciousness of indigenous people and determine the behavior patterns leading to alcohol consumption or suicide. This research report empirically tests the hypothesis that the group-specific attribution style that makes these people more pessimistically assess reasons and causes of events happening to and around them can play a role. The results of quantitative research conducted among teenagers representing both indigenous and non-indigenous populations of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region and the Republic of Komi generally confirm this hypothesis.

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Alena V. Ivanova

This article covers the process of identity construction in children; this process defines the focus of Russian educational policy, which also provides a venue for alternative ways to implement it. The article presents research on designing a system to form national, regional, and ethnocultural identity in children of the indigenous people of the North via the curriculum and teaching aids. The article examines regions of Russia inhabited by indigenous small-numbered peoples, as well as their distinctive features, which have a significant impact on the process of identity construction in children of the North. This has revealed the specific character of the large formation of positive types of identity within the educational system.

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Russia's Indigenous Peoples of the North

A Demographic Portrait at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century

Dmitriy Bogoyavlenskiy

This article describes and contextualizes the current demographic status of Russia's indigenous northern peoples, considering their demographic transition and making comparisons with other indigenous Arctic populations and the entire population of the Russian Federation. Census data, public documents from 1959 to 2004, and birth and death certificates from 1998 to 2004, collected by the author, provide the source data for this demographic portrait. Russia's indigenous northern peoples are in a critical demographic situation. Extremely high and persistent adult mortality rates raise doubt about the "moderately optimistic" estimates made in some recent ethnographic accounts by Russian scholars.

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Gunther Dietz and Laura Mateos Cortés

Multicultural discourse has reached Latin American higher education in the form of a set of policies targeting indigenous peoples. These policies are strongly influenced by the transfer of European notions of 'interculturality', which, in the Mexican context, are understood as positive interactions between members of minority and majority cultures. In Mexico, innovative and often polemical 'intercultural universities or colleges' are being created by governments, by NGOs or by pre-existing universities. This trend towards 'diversifying' the ethnocultural profiles of students and curricular contents coincides with a broader tendency to force institutions of higher education to become more 'efficient', 'corporate' and 'outcome-oriented'. Accordingly, these still very recently established 'intercultural universities' are often criticised as being part of a common policy of 'privatisation' and 'neoliberalisation' and of developing curricula particular to specific groups which weakens the universalist and comprehensive nature of Latin American public universities. Indigenous leaders, on the contrary, frequently claim and celebrate the appearance of these new higher education opportunities as part of a strategy of empowering actors of indigenous origin or African descent.

Going beyond this polemic, this paper presents the first findings of an activist anthropological and ethnographically-based case study of the actors participating in the configuration of one of these new institutions of higher education, the Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural (UVI), located on the Mexican gulf coast. This article examines the way UVI has appropriated the discourse of interculturality on the basis of fieldwork conducted in the four indigenous regions where the UVI offers a B.A. in Intercultural Management for Development. The study focuses on the actors' teaching and learning practices, which are strongly shaped by an innovative and hybrid mixture of conventional university teaching, community-oriented research and 'employability'-driven development projects.

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Sergey V. Sokolovskiy

This article is a case study of the emergence and construction of politically salient social classifications that underpin such phenomena as ethnicity and nationalism in contemporary Russia. Official recognition of ethnic group in Russia often entails political visibility and special status with an associated set of legal provisions. In addition to 'titular peoples' of the republics, the Russian legal system has several legal categories based on ethnicity, such as indigenous peoples and national minorities, whose members claim and attain special status and associated rights. In order to ensure these rights, the state administration needs reliable information on the numbers of people in such categories.

The article analyzes ethnic and languages categorization in the population census of 2002, describes the related census technology, comments on legal definitions of indigenous peoples in Russia, and within this framework elaborates on the topic of indigeneity construction. It also provides an interpretation of the numerical threshold employed in federal laws on indigenous peoples.

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The problem with “transparency”

Moral contests and ethical possibilities in mining impact reporting

Sally Babidge

Subterranean waters in the mineral-rich and water-poor Atacama desert, northern Chile, are subject to contest between resource-extracting companies and mostly indigenous residents. In complying with global Corporate Social Responsibility standards and local agreements, and in an effort to reduce opposition from indigenous groups, some mining companies have begun to undertake “transparency” reporting regarding the impact of their subterranean water extraction activities. These engagements present a moral interface between two streams of global discourse: the CSR principle of “transparency” on impacts of water extraction and the rights of indigenous peoples to “native waters.” An ethnographic study of a set of such engagements shows indigenous community rejection of the truths that transparency purports to reveal. However, the apparent intractability of moral contest in such globally comparative and locally specific contexts in terms of distrust of the mining companies is tempered by a proposition for the ethics of engagement.

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Adaptation--Genuine and Spurious

Demystifying Adaptation Processes in Relation to Climate Change

Thomas F. Thornton and Nadia Manasfi

In climate change discourse and policy, adaptation has become a critical byword and frame of reference. An implicit assumption in much of the strategizing is the notion that adaptation can be rationally planned, funded, and governed largely through existing frameworks. But can adaptation really be managed or engineered, especially given the significant unpredictability and severe impacts that are forecast in a range of climate scenarios? Over millennia, successful societies have adapted to climate shifts, but evidence suggests that this was often accomplished only through wide-ranging reorganization or the institution of new measures in the face of extreme environmental stress. This essay critically examines the concept of human adaptation by dividing it into eight fundamental processes and viewing each in a broad cultural, ecological, and evolutionary context. We focus our assessment especially on northern indigenous peoples, who exist at the edges of present-day climate governance frameworks but at the center of increasingly acute climate stress.

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Adrian Albano, Els van Dongen and Shinya Takeda

The Philippines is one of the many countries that currently acknowledge the presence of indigenous peoples (IPs) within their territories. This acknowledgment often comes with a formal recognition of the rights of IPs, including the right to practice their customary laws. Because of the equal existence of overarching state laws, this formally leads to a situation of legal pluralism for IPs. For many forest conservation advocates, legal pluralism for IPs, particularly with regard to land ownership and forest management, is expected to help conserve forests. This expectation, however, is founded on the erroneous assumption that the traditional land use of IPs is nondestructive and that traditional land ownership is communal. Using a relatively long historical perspective, this article demonstrates that these assumptions do not apply to the Kalanguya of Tinoc, the Philippines. In contrast to the notion of IPs being market-averse, this article further demonstrates that many Kalanguya have been and remain “capitalists”. The article favors the inclusion of a market-based forest conservation policy, which is arguably consistent with the reality of value pluralism.