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Women’s Rights and Sovereignty/Autonomy

Negotiating Gender in Indigenous Justice Spaces

Shannon Speed, María Teresa Sierra, Lynn Stephen, Jessica Johnson and Heike Schaumberg

In recent years in both the United States and Latin America, indigenous peoples have taken increasing control over local justice, creating indigenous courts and asserting more autonomy in the administration of justice in their tribes, regions, or communities. New justice spaces, such as the Chickasaw District Courts in Oklahoma and the Zapatista Good Governance Councils in Chiapas, work to resolve conflict based largely on indigenous ‘customs and traditions.’ Many of the cases brought before these local legal bodies are domestic cases that directly involve issues of gender, women’s rights and culture. Yet the relationship between ‘indigenous traditions’ and women’s rights has been a fraught one. This forum article considers how these courts emerged in the context of neoliberalism and whether they provide new venues for indigenous women to pursue their rights and to challenge gendered social norms or practices that they find oppressive.

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Love as Resistance

Exploring Conceptualizations of Decolonial Love in Settler States

Shantelle Moreno

In this article, I weave together connections between notions of decoloniality and love while considering implications for decolonial praxis by racialized people settled on Indigenous lands. Through a community-based research project exploring land and body sovereignty in settler contexts, I engaged with Indigenous and racialized girls, young women, 2-Spirit, and queer-identified young adults to create artwork and land-based expressions of resistance, resurgence, and wellbeing focusing on decolonial love. Building on literature from Indigenous, decolonizing, feminist, and post-colonial studies, I unpack the ways in which decolonial love is constructed and engaged in by young Indigenous and racialized people as they navigate experiences of racism, sexism, cultural assimilation, and other intersecting forms of marginalization inherent in colonial rule. I uphold these diverse perspectives as integral components in developing more nuanced and situated understandings of the power of decolonial love in the everyday lives of Indigenous and racialized young peoples and communities.

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Indigenous Australia

Enduring Civilisation—A Personal Reflection

Howard Morphy

Over the past few years I have been fortunate to be part of a team of people working on an exhibition at the British Museum. The curator of the exhibition is Gaye Sculthorpe, Curator of Oceania at the Museum. Lissant Bolton, Keeper of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, came up with the exhibition title, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation. The word civilization had been part of our discussions all along and her wording resolved any doubt we might have had. Civilization came to mind because it was the British Museum, because of Ancient Greece and Rome, because of Oriental Civilization, because of Kenneth Clarke, and in my case because of the title of the book A Black Civilization by the anthropologist W. Lloyd Warner.

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Red Ribbon Skirts and Cultural Resurgence

Kimihko sîmpân iskwêwisâkaya êkwa sihcikêwin waniskâpicikêwin

Kari Dawn Wuttunee, Jennifer Altenberg and Sarah Flicker

A small group of Indigenous girls and their allies came together to make ribbon skirts to reclaim teachings, resist gender-based and colonial violence, and re-imagine our collective futures. Based on the personal reflections of the organizers and the girls involved gathered through individual semi-structured interviews and directed journal writing, we share lessons about the process and outcomes. Learning about the historical and cultural significance of ribbon skirts gave these girls a stronger connection to their culture, community, and each other. Wearing their ribbon skirts became an embodied act of resistance to violence in promoting resilience and self-determination. This case study illustrates how Indigenous girls and their allies can engage in resurgence practices to challenge gender-based violence through reclaiming and adapting cultural teachings and practices.

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Rescuing Indigenous Land Ownership

Revising Locke's Account of Original Appropriation through Cultivation

S. Stewart Braun

As part of his account of original appropriation, John Locke famously argued that uncultivated land was open to acquisition. Historically, this account has played a large role in justifying the seizure of indigenous land. In this article, I contend that despite the past acts of dispossession Locke's account seemingly justified, a complete rejection of Locke's idea of original appropriation would be a mistake since a generalised account can be constructed that does not subvert indigenous ownership. I also contend that the revised account can be used to critique the current legal and political situation regarding native title in Australia.

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Soft skills, hard rocks

Making diamonds ethical in Canada’s Northwest Territories

Lindsay A. Bell

In 2007, Canada was the third-largest producer of diamonds in the world. Marketed as ethical alternatives to ”blood diamonds,” Canadian gemstones are said to go beyond basic “conflict-free” designations by providing northern Indigenous peoples with high-wage work and training. This article makes two connected points. First, it describes how the ethics of diamond mining are connected to the uneasy management of people groomed to do extractive work. Second, following the development and delivery of job training programs for Indigenous people over the course of the financial crisis of 2008–2009, this article reveals how mandatory “soft skills” courses attempt to adjust would-be worker speech to meet corporate norms in ways that were essential in maintaining the ethical sign value of subarctic stones.

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Paul Sillitoe

This is an introduction to indigenous or local knowledge (IK) in development. After discussing problems of definition, various models to represent relations between, and structure enquiries into, different knowledge traditions are outlined, including the continuum and sphere representations. This discussion includes a summary of points that justify why agencies should seek better to incorporate consideration of local knowledge into development programmes; and sketches the several methodological issues that we have to address to take this work forwards. Finally, this introduction concludes with some comments on the work of the Durham Anthropology in Development (AID) group.

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Indigenous Urbanization in Russia's Arctic

The Case of Nenets Autonomous Region

Marya Rozanova

This article presents the social, economic, and political factors that contribute to the ongoing urbanization of the Nenets indigenous communities (“communities-in-transition”) in the Nenets Autonomous Region. Focusing on the preconditions for “indigenous flight” from traditional rural settlements to urban areas, the article analyzes key indicators—demographics, language proficiency, education level, and occupational sector, as well as social cohesion, interethnic relations, and political inclusion in the larger urban context—to describe the adaptation and integration processes of these new city dwellers. Based on the fieldwork in the region, the article also presents individual life strategies and career choices of indigenous youth and describes the role of gender in indigenous urbanization.

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Indigenous Politics and the State

The Andean Highlands in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Michiel Baud

This article examines the emergence of indigenous movements in contemporary Latin America, focusing on the Andean countries. It is argued that we can understand the dynamics of these movements only if we see them in the historical context of the interaction between indigenous populations and the emerging Andean states in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The article reaches two important conclusions. First, this interaction was not purely antagonistic. Indigenous leaders used state legislation to achieve goals and often obtained support from state officials and sympathetic intellectuals (often called indigenistas). Second, it is clear that indigenous movements cannot automatically be considered progressive or emancipatory. They are just as often enacted in pursuit of backward-looking and even conservative objectives.

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Mercedes González de la Rocha and Agustín Escobar Latapí

For as long as national records have been kept, Indigenous rural girls in Mexico have spent the least amount of time in school (aside from some people with disabilities). An innovative social program was designed in the 1990s that aimed to stop the intergenerational transmission of poverty through the provision of cash transfers (higher for girls than for boys) to families, conditional upon their children’s attendance at school and health clinics. We set out to assess whether or not the program had closed these gender and ethnicity gaps and found that it did narrow substantially pre-existing inequalities among rural indigenous poor girls and their families and, in some instances, reversed them. We recognize that the program does not eliminate other structural forces discriminating against indigenous Mexican girls and that prolonged education is an instrument for mobility only if these other forces are counterbalanced by more comprehensive social strategies.