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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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Fighting Invasive Infrastructures

Indigenous Relations against Pipelines

Anne Spice

In the settler colonial context of so-called Canada, oil and gas projects are contemporary infrastructures of invasion. This article tracks how the state discourse of “critical infrastructure” naturalizes the environmental destruction wrought by the oil and gas industry while criminalizing Indigenous resistance. I review anthropological work to analyze the applicability of the concept of infrastructure to Indigenous struggles against resource extraction. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Indigenous land defense movements against pipeline construction, I argue for an alternative approach to infrastructure that strengthens and supports the networks of human and other-than-human relations that continue to make survival possible for Indigenous peoples.

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Mino-Mnaamodzawin

Achieving Indigenous Environmental Justice in Canada

Deborah McGregor

This article explores the potential for advancing environmental justice (EJ) theory and practice through engaging with Indigenous intellectual traditions. When EJ is grounded in Indigenous epistemological and ontological foundations, a distinct EJ framework emerges, leading to a deeper understanding of Indigenous EJ and to a renewed vision for achieving it. I highlight the emergence of the Anishinaabe philosophy referred to as mino-mnaamodzawin (“living well” or “the good life”), common to several Indigenous epistemologies, that considers the critical importance of mutually respectful and beneficial relationships among not only peoples but all our relations (including all living things and many entities not considered by Western society as living, such as water and Earth itself). Mino-mnaamodzawin is suggested as a foundational contributor to a new ethical standard of conduct that will be required if society is to begin engaging in appropriate relationships with all of Creation, thereby establishing a sustainable and just world.

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Dustin William Louie

In this article, based on research I conducted in Western Canada, I discuss the significance of the emerging influence of social media on the overrepresentation of Indigenous girls in sexually exploitative situations. In interviews I conducted with Indigenous sexual exploitation survivors and intervention staff I found that social media is being used to recruit Indigenous girls and keep them exploited in three distinct ways: targeting girls in reserve communities and luring them to the city; setting up so-called dates to keep them off the streets; and facilitating constant communication between the victim and victimizer, thus ensuring that girls are perpetually active and reachable. I respond to these by outlining educational possibilities in order to combat the exposure of these girls to predators on social media sites.

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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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Eliana Elisabeth Diehl and Esther Jean Langdon

English abstract:

In 1990, the Brazilian Unified Health System institutionalized new relationships between the government and society. In recognition of the inequalities and inequities inflicted upon Indigenous Peoples, the Indigenous Health Subsystem was established in 1999. Roles were created for the democratic exercise of Indigenous participation and prominence in three border spaces: Indigenous health agents as members of health teams; Indigenous representatives on health councils; and Indigenous organizations as primary care providers. This article explores these spaces based on ethnographic research from southern Brazil. It concludes that the roles created for Indigenous participation and governance are ambiguous and contradictory. When participating in new opportunities created by the government, Indigenous actors are subjected to a centralized and bureaucratized system that offers little possibility of autonomous decision- making or action.

Spanish abstract:

En 1990, el Sistema Único de Salud institucionalizó nuevas relaciones entre el gobierno y la sociedad, estableciendo en 1999 el Subsistema de Salud Indígena. Se crearon nuevos roles para el ejercicio democrático de la participación indígena con prominencia en tres espacios de frontera: agentes indígenas de salud como miembros de los equipos de salud; representantes indígenas en los consejos de salud; y organizaciones indígenas como proveedores de atención primaria. Este artículo explora estos espacios basado en investigación etnográfi ca del sur de Brasil. Se concluye que los roles creados para la participación y gobernanza indígena son ambiguos y contradictorios. Cuando se participa en nuevas oportunidades creadas por el gobierno, los actores indígenas son sometidos a un sistema que ofrece poca posibilidad de tomar decisiones autónomas o actuar.

French abstract:

1990 le système unique de santé brésilien, le SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde) institutionnalisait de nouvelles relations entre le gouvernement et la société en donnant aux usagers un rôle central et en leur att ribuant une large participation dans tous les secteurs des soins. En reconnaissance des inégalités et iniquités historiques infl igées aux peuples indigènes, le sous-système de soin indigène fut établi en 1999. De nouveaux rôles furent créés pour l’exercice démocratique de la participation indigène et sa reconnaissance dans trois zones d’action et de communication délimitées. Cet article explore ces espaces sur la base de recherches ethnographiques réalisées au Sud du Brésil et conclut que les rôles créés pour la participation indigène et la notion associée de gouvernance sont souvent ambigus et contradictoires.

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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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Chimiza Lamazhaa

This article discusses indigenous methodology in the context of Tuvan studies. Tuvan studies have a rich history, with significant contributions by local Tuvan researchers as well as Russian and foreign scholars. This article presents an overview of this research before, during, and after the Soviet period. The paper examines possible strengths and weaknesses of both “insider” (indigenous) and “outsider” research, with the consideration that these opposing categories are not so easily delineated. Through case studies describing the work and insights of the renowned Tuvan researcher Valentina Suzukei and the cultural “thesaurus” approach of Lukov and Lukov (2008), the article assesses the potential of indigenous methodology in the field of Tuvan studies.

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Management Speak

Indigenous Knowledge and Bureaucratic Engagement

Sally Babidge, Shelley Greer, Rosita Henry and Christine Pam

In this article we examine the concept of 'indigenous knowledge' as it is currently used in resource management discourse. In the process of engaging with government agents and researchers in the bureaucracy of resource management, indigenous knowledge is a powerful concept in the legitimization of local indigenous practice as well as the recognition of resource and socio-environmental management aspirations. Our use of the phrase 'management speak' frames our analysis of these bureaucratic engagements as process (management) and dialogue, rather than a 'space'. We do so in order to gain insights into the politics and practice of these engagements that might go beyond recognition of indigenous interests and toward more practical approaches. Our discussion draws on research conducted at Yarrabah Aboriginal Community in northern Queensland in relation to marine resource management in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

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Terence Turner

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.