International Political Science Association, RC14: Politics and Ethnicity

‘The Politics of Indigenous Identity: National and International Perspectives’

Dunmore Lang College, Macquarie University, Sydney, 10th-14th

ABSTRACTS (in alphabetical order of family name)

‘Indigenous Politics and Fiji’s Coups’

Jone Baledrokadroka, Australian National University, Canberra (

This paper examines how indigenous politics has led to Fiji becoming a coup-proned nation. It analyses the constructivist argument that the politics of indigenous identity has largely accounted for Fiji’s post independence instability. Secondly it analyses the hypothesis that political instrumentalism has also contributed to Fiji’s post Independence woes. Proponents of this view argue that the coups have been the result of politicians using the ‘race card’ and manipulating the military to illegally acquire power. The paper then examines the demonizing of ethno-nationalism and the reversal to multi-racialism by the Bainimarama military regime to justify and overthrow the indigenously backed SDL government.

Historically after contact indigenous interests were often forfeited for colonial interests. For indigenous Fijians, however, their neo-traditional interests became fixed. Fiji’s first Governor Gordon’s 1876 indigenous protection policy was theorized to mitigate European influences that alienated land and threatened traditional life. The patron–client relationship between the British and Fijian chiefly elite thus became the cornerstone of colonial rule. A compromise was agreed to in the 1970 Constitution crafted by Fiji’s communal elites. It produced the political paradox where paramountcy was promised the indigenous Fijians, parity for Indo-Fijians and privilege for Europeans.

By the mid 1970s though, breakaway nationalist Sakeasi Butadroka razed Prime Minister Mara’s veneer of multiracialism with his ethnocentric ‘Fiji for the Fijian’ political mantra. Colonel Rabuka’s coup re-installed the indigenous elite thus perpetrating indigenous paramountcy under the façade of democracy. Indigenous affirmative action policies were then promoted by successive governments as mandatory to bridging the racial socio-economic gap, it only widened the political divide. Rare concordance in the mid 1990s, however, between Prime Minister Rabuka and Opposition Leader Reddy saw racially inclusive amendments in the 1997 Constitution. Ironically this led to their political demise as deep racial mistrust festered into the new millennium. Nationalist George Speight’s overthrow of Fiji’s first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry’s government brought an unlikely character onto Fiji’s political stage- Commodore Bainimarama. Initially Bainimarama and the military were ambivalent to Speight’s coup stating ‘we support the indigenous cause but not the means’. By 2006 Bainimarama and the military had reversed its stand for indigenous paramountcy publically criticizing ethno-nationalism. The antagonism between government and the military finally erupted in the coup of December 2006. Many supported the coup believing it a choice between Bainimarama’s military order or the ethno-nationalist’s abyss. Bainimarama promises a multiracial democracy free of ethnic politics in the 2014 elections.

‘Tracking Historical Trajectories of Regional Political Distinctiveness’ Britt Cartrite, Alma College (; Dan Miodownik, Hebrew University (; Karalyn Nic, Alma College (; Victoria Bishop, Alma College (

Although large studies of regionalism in Western Europe date back to at least Rokkan and Urwin (1975), the study of ethnic politics has tended to treat ethnic regions as a distinct set of cases (e.g. Cartrite 2003) rather than attempting to systematically compare the relative distinctiveness of all regions in a system to evaluate those associated with a minority identity alongside those without. Hearl et al. (1996) represent a partial correction to this bias, giving rise to a small but growing literature in more recent years that includes minority identity as an explanatory variable rather than a selection criterion. However, the party nationalization and party systems nationalization literature (e.g. Caramani 2004), which focuses on the production of relative homogeneity of political behavior within a system rather than identifying and comparing the distinctiveness of regions, has identified a number of weaknesses with the most commonly adopted measures used by Hearl et al. and subsequent studies; these corrections have not, however, been widely used to refine the research of scholars of regionalism. Building on the electoral dataset of Caramani (2004) with more recent electoral data, this paper will use the refined measure developed in Cartrite et al. (2013) to explore the historical trajectories of regional distinctiveness over time in Spain and France. The paper will clarify the impact of ethnic identify mobilization on regional political distinctiveness over time within each region as well as in comparison to both ethnically distinct and non-distinct regions across Spain and France.

‘Indigenous as ‘Not-Indigenous’ as ‘Us’? A Dissident Insider’s Views on Pushing the Bounds for what Constitutes “Our Mob”’ Gordon Chalmers, University of Queensland, Brisbane (

‘Aboriginality’ is often unwittingly defined by some Aboriginal people in constrictive ways that are heavily influenced by the coloniser’s epistemological frameworks. An essential component of this is the ‘racial/ethnic’ categorisation of peoples that marks sameness and difference and thereby influences insider/outsider status. This categorisation of people acts in many ways to exclude non-Aboriginal ‘others’ from participation in what may be seen to be more fundamentally important ideals that inhered in Indigenous populations pre-colonisation; ideals and ways of living that may be said to have not contained such restrictive categories and were thereby highly inclusive of outsiders. One of the effects of this is that Aboriginal peoples’ efforts for ‘advancement’ – either out of poverty and/or towards sovereign recognition – become confined and restricted by what is deemed possible within the coloniser’s epistemological frameworks, so much so that Aboriginal people are at risk of only reinforcing and upholding the very systems that resulted in their original and continuing dispossession. Drawing upon my experiences and knowledge of the Yanyuwa Aboriginal people’s laws and history I wish to problematise the basis for ‘Aboriginality’ by showing that the criteria for who is “Yanyuwa” is in no way ethnically (racially) exclusive. Despite laws and external pressures from the dominant society that continually resist Yanyuwa assertions of ‘hospitality’, ‘ethnic’ outsiders continue to be made insiders; made Yanyuwa. I will explore a number of reasons why it would be more beneficial for Aboriginal peoples to prioritise non-ethnically restrictive values-based identity criteria which, I will argue, more closely align to pre-colonial Aboriginal ontologies. Additionally, to prioritise this identity category as the basis for inclusion into “our mob”, may be more strategically effective in achieving a greater advancement of “all of our mob” on this land mass.

‘Towards Self-Definition? A critical Survey of State Systems for Defining Indigenous Peoples’ Ravi de Costa, York University, Toronto (

Colonialism endures in the designation by states of particular individuals and communities as Indigenous (or a host of analogous terms, such as Aboriginal, American Indian or Tribal). This assumption of state authority – to identify those entitled to particular benefits or subject to certain rules – is a legacy of 19th century colonial administrations seeking to rationalize management of lands and populations. The fact that in many places today these systems are deeply resented, or contrarily, that affected communities have taken control of the rules of definition, does not alter the fact that these systems for definition remain an instrument of state reason and administrative efficiency. As a consequence, simply being Maori, Sami, or Munda, for example, is not qualification for Indigenous status in New Zealand, Norway or India respectively. Identity does not equal state recognition. States do not aggregate the self-defined memberships of all communities who predate the arrival of colonists or the coming of modernity to generate their definitions. Moreover, states have interfered with the ways Indigenous communities identify themselves. The proposed paper will present the findings of an ongoing research project towards a comprehensive study of state practices of definition. It surveys practices of over 20 states, to suggest that this variety is best framed using three broad concepts: descent (some demonstrable relation between present-day claimants and a prior unquestioned Indigenous community); cultural requirements (language use, for example, or “participation” in community or economic life); and self-definition (where states devolve to Indigenous communities the management of membership rules). These are not incompatible: for example, many frameworks of self-definition use descent or cultural criteria. Moreover, state impositions can be arbitrary (such as numerical size), inter-subjective (requiring recognition by non-Indigenous communities living around claimants) or can seek to approximate Indigenous practices of recognition. The paper also takes up policy challenges: pressures on status-holders and states from demographic trends, shifting cultural norms and legal/institutional change, including the passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In addition to examination of definition frameworks from the “settler states” (Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US), plus the regions of Scandinavia and Latin America, the paper examines definitions of Indigenous peoples from Asia, Africa and Russia. This is far from comprehensive but reveals both patterns and debates of wider relevance. It is not clear that the shift towards self-definition suggested by some scholars is, in fact, inevitable.

‘The “Real Economy” and the “Hybrid Economy”: Two Visions of Indigenous Cultural Survival’ Katherine Curchin, Australian National University, Canberra (

This paper compares how Indigneous cultural survival is theorized in Noel Pearson and Jon Altman’s writings on remote economic development. In the contemporary debate on how to address the poverty and disadvantage of Indigenous Australians living in remote regions, Noel Pearson and Jon Altman are two of the central intellectual figures. Pearson, an Aboriginal leader from Cape York Peninsula, is often credited with being the inspiration behind much of the rethinking of Commonwealth Indigenous affairs policy that has occurred in the last decade. Altman, an anthropologist with a background in economics, has been one of the loudest critics of these changes. Pearson advocates for greater integration of Indigenous people into what he calls ‘the real economy’. Altman meanwhile has been suspicious of efforts to encourage Indigenous Australians to integrate into the mainstream labour force. He has produced an alternative model of development – the hybrid economy model – which he suggests is more in keeping with the aspirations of many Aboriginal people to maintain a degree of autonomy from non-Indigenous Australians Dominant characterizations of the current polarized debate on Indigenous development in Australia inaccurately envisage it as a dispute between proponents and detractors of neoliberalism or advocates and critics of assimilation. This paper goes beyond this simplistic characterisation to isolate the genuine points of disagreement between Altman and Pearson and highlight the contrasting assumptions which underpin their rival proposals for Indigenous economic development in Australia’s sparsely populated north. I argue that among the most important contrasts in their thinking are differences in how Pearson and Altman conceptualise cultural difference, cultural change and cultural survival. Though both men are advocates for Indigenous self-determination they possess different ways of thinking about Indigenous choice and aspiration. Together these difference leads them to focus on different threats to Indigenous autonomy and cultural survival, resulting in different positions on such policy issues as welfare reform, education, home ownership and urban migration.

‘Un Paradigma Otro: Border Thinking and the Zapatista Movement in Mexico’ Eugenia Demuro ( and Zuleika Arashiro (, Australian National University, Canberra

The rise of indigenous movements in Latin America has become one of the most highlighted examples of contemporary new social movements in the region. While indigenous marginalisation and discontent have a long history grounded in the colonial experience, the political power of ethnic-based claims gained more visibility with the fragmentation of social mobilisation into a myriad of agendas that has accompanied the neoliberal era. Within this context, the movement coordinated by the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN), in Chiapas, southern Mexico, has often been analysed as a case of a radical project that was meant to reverse the historical marginalisation of indigenous peoples. This paper proposes a reading of the Zapatista movement through the lens of the Modernity/Coloniality/Decoloniality (M/C/D) theoretical perspective. Advanced initially by a group of scholars from Latin America (Walter Mignolo, Enrique Dussel, Aníbal Quijano), it has emerged outside the dominant Western paradigms and carries out a critique of Western modernity and its corresponding logic of power. Arturo Escobar proposes that this other paradigm ‘should be seen as another way of thinking ... that locates its own inquiry in the very borders of systems of thought and reaches towards the possibility of non-eurocentric modes of thinking’. It is through this claim to an-other way of thinking that the M/C/D perspective offers a novel approach to the examination of indigenous movements in Latin America. To this end, we apply fundamental concepts within the M/C/D framework – particularly the notions of colonial difference, border thinking, and transmodernity – to examine the Zapatista movement as a case of ‘border thinking’. The Zapatista movement enunciated its discourse of political liberation from the ‘other side of the colonial difference’ precisely at a time when Mexico’s identity was being reframed by national elites and associated with the modern global project of free markets and economic integration. While recognising the limitations of the movement, this paper focuses on the effective changes that the Zapatistas have produced for the positioning of indigenous peoples within the narrative of belonging and existing in Mexico, in almost two decades since their uprising on 1 January 1994.

‘Indigeneity and Trends in Recognising Māori Environmental Interests in Aotearoa New Zealand’

Margaret Forster, Massey University, New Zealand (

The bond between Māori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the ancestral landscape has been negatively affected by colonisation. The physical landscape has been transformed to conform to British notions of appropriate land use and Māori have been conditioned to accept these foreign/new agendas as our own. Reclaiming our ties to the ancestral landscape can counteract this legacy and enable recognition of, and provisions for Māori environmental rights and interests. This paper provides a discussion of how indigeneity has been recognised and valued, in an Aotearoa New Zealand context, to determine why provisions for Māori environmental rights and interests have emerged today. The paper begins by exploring mechanisms for recognising indigeneity and the ability of these mechanisms to facilitate assertions of indigenous identity and authority. The focus then turns to the colonising process and the impact of this process on controlling the way indigenous people think and act towards the environment. The paper ends with a consideration of the legacy of a colonial land development agenda and the link to contemporary assertions for increased recognition of Māori environmental rights and interests in resource management. The intent of this paper is to explore the role of public policy in facilitating or impeding tribal relationships with the ancestral landscape.

‘The Genesis of Indigenous Autonomism, beyond Zapatismo: Reflections on Miskito and Mapuche movements in Latin America’ Alejandra Gaitan, Barrera Griffith University, Queensland (

The reemergence of an unprecedented number of indigenous movements in Latin America in late 1960s sparked extensive theoretical research on the idea of indigenous autonomy within the state. In recent years, this body of research has produced vast amount of literature in regards to identity, citizenship, equality, and political inclusion. Nonetheless, the diverse mosaic of indigenous conceptualization of autonomy in the region is currently under-researched within political science. This paper hypothesizes how indigenous nations, collectivities and resistance movements across Latin America understand and utilize the concept of autonomy. As a highly fluid and at times ambiguous concept, some groups demand autonomy in the form of political inclusion into state institutions; others construct autonomy as merely self-rule within a demarcated territory. Nevertheless, there are still others—which this research is more concerned about—for whom autonomy epitomizes the rejection of the state, exclusion of settler nations, the revindication of their traditional territory, and the absolute recovery and revitalization of ancestral systems of knowledge, forms of government and patterns of social interaction. To date, most studies have focused on the demands and aspirations of the ‘Zapatista National Liberation Army’ (EZLN) of indigenous Mayans in southern Mexico. From 1994 onwards, a vast amount of theoretical and empirical work has been produced in regards to this movement. Nonetheless, the rest of Latin American indigenous movements and organizations remain largely under-researched and under-theorized. This work draws on fieldwork experience and a series of communications with two overlooked autonomist indigenous groups in the region: the Council of Miskito Elders in Nicaragua and the Arauco Malleco Coordinating Committee in Chile. Field research however, raised significant new challenges in the theorization of autonomy. Autonomism turns out to be much more complex and multifaceted than the previously neatly and reductionist theorization of autonomy. In this context, this paper argues that power and factional relations and the juxtaposition of old and new social paradigm reveals an internal dialectic process at play. Overall, this project sheds new light on the rarely acknowledged bottom-up politics of autonomism.

‘Indigenous Depression as a Catalyst for the Reconstruction of the Contemporary Mestizo State: the Case of Ecuador’ Carlos Andres Gallegos, Australian National University, Canberra (

This paper, based on seven years of primary research in Ecuador, explores indigenous depression as an important public health problem with significant political implications and of fundamental relevance to the definition of indigeneity. It challenges western criteria for assessing depression and shows that this mental disorder in indigenous people has additional specific manifestations which frequently escape typical diagnostic manuals and tools. The novel psychosocial approach of this study demonstrates that depression among Ecuadorian indigenous people is strongly associated with attachment to the land. When access to and use of land is altered, indigenous individuals and communities suffer an ethnic-specific form of depression. Concepts of land and territory are more than social concepts in the discourse of indigeneity; they are at the centre of individual and collective health. From this perspective, the concept of territory includes not only soil and the allocation space but also Pacha Mama, which can be interpreted in terms of the animistic spirit of Mother Nature. Moreover, Pacha Mama is a powerful construct that defines social organisation and local political structures. In this context, the indigenous movement in Ecuador has had a significant political presence which has contributed to the recognition of the rights of nature in the current Constitution and also the recognition of the Pacha Mama in the national development plan; called literally the ‘National Plan of Good Living’. This in turn challenges western concepts of health, property regimes and natural resource management. Finally and importantly, this paper is a call for the analysis of the interrelations between natural resources, health, and indigenous people in the design and implementation of public policy –even beyond countries with identified indigenous population.

‘Northern Ireland’s Flags Crisis and the Enduring Legacy of the Settler-Native Divide in the North-East of the Island of Ireland’ Adrian Guelke, Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland (

The upsurge of unrest in Northern Ireland in December 2012, disturbances which extended into the first months of 2013, took most political observers of the province by surprise as it ran counter to a generally shared assumption that the settlement of the conflict embodied in the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998 had finally taken root in 2011 and 2012. Prior to the violence triggered by Belfast City Council’s decision to limit the flying of the Union flag to designated days, Northern Ireland’s new political dispensation seemed completely secure. Indeed, the arrangements for the governance of Northern Ireland, including the provisions for power-sharing and cross-border co-operation were being widely touted as a model for the resolution of conflict between rival ethno-nationalisms, applicable across the world. The unexpected crisis has presented a challenge to the simple characterisation of the problem as one between contending ethno-national communities in an unranked system, to use Donald Horowitz’s term. Interpretation of the Northern Ireland problem in terms of a long-lasting divide between settlers and natives that pre-dated contention over partition has been given fresh resonance. In particular, it provides a framework for explaining the strength of working class Protestant reaction on the flags issue, despite the lack of support among Catholics for a united Ireland and the growth of a Northern Irish identity to underpin the future of Northern Ireland as a political entity. The paper examines these issues while seeking to explain how and why recent developments have come to present a threat to the settlement that was achieved in 1998. Evidence on the social and political trends that have contributed to the current crisis is drawn from a wide-ranging peace monitoring report that was published for the first time in 2012, as well as from the second report of 2013. These sources are particularly important in the light of the discontinuance of the reports of the Independent Monitoring Commission on paramilitary organisations on the ground that their work was no longer necessary, an assumption that has proved overly optimistic.

‘Searching for Certainty in Purity: Indigeneity and Fundamentalism.’ Braden Hill; Murdoch University, Perth (

Elicited by the dominance of liberal politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Indigenous resistance to colonial hegemony developed as one based on a politics of difference. This construction of difference relied on the notions of ‘culture’ to establish a discursive space to not only articulate the political demands of the subjugated Indigenous minority, but to also assert a political identity that was deliberately and necessarily defined in opposition to the colonial oppressor. This strategic invocation of culture significantly shaped social and political discourse to such an extent that ‘culture’ and cultural recovery became crucial to both Indigenous liberation politics and subsequent government policy up until the late 1990s. Whilst I do not seek to diminish the importance of the political gains made throughout the 70s and 80s, I do seek to interrogate the less liberatory impulses of such political constructions of identity and culture. The impetus for this comes as a response to what I see as particular instances whereby such politicized notions of identity have been deployed in oppressive ways that resemble fundamentalist constructions of identity. My purpose is to argue that Indigenous responses to colonization that are based on a politics of difference, have the potential to, and in particular instances do, invoke the notion of ‘culture’ and identity as an oppressive and absolute site of authority in a way that is, in practice, fundamentalist.

‘Oil and gas exploration in Angola: Legal dimension of the indigenous people of Cabinda’ Elizabeth Johnson, North West University, Mafikeng (

The paper examines the legal dimension of the indigenous people of Cabinda in the natural resources conflicts of Angola for over four decades. Oil and gas exploration poses one of the greatest of the many threats facing indigenous peoples and the lands, territories and the resources that they depend on. This development have generated a heated debate among scholars over the activities of oil multinationals and the relationship between the indigenous people of Cabinda and the central government of Angola. The oil is strategic for all the parties in the conflict, which began since 1975. Drawing from data generated from interviews and various secondary instruments, the paper argues that the operations of oil multinationals in the Cabinda region have violated the rights of the Indigenous people in different ways.

A central factor that shaped the emergence of the war was the interest of the oil industry in the politics and material benefits – distributional mode. The paper takes the position that the presence of natural resources and its mode of extraction by the Angolan state and captains of the oil industry have reinforced the gross violation of the indigenous people’s right in the case of Angola. Therefore, the paper will look at the the rights of indigenous peoples in relation to extractive industries and to what extent can they secure these rights and protect the indigenous peoples against the negative impacts of extractive Industries in Cabinda.

‘Packaging the Pacific: Cultural Commodification and the Politics of Exclusion’ Dr. Sudarsan Kant, Harris-Stowe State University, Missouri (

The Fijian tourism industry, which is deeply embedded within the market imperatives of capitalism, has skillfully packaged the culture of the indigenous people as the only authentic representation of the Islands. Consumers who are eager for an “exotic” travel experience are able to purchase their own piece of paradise; especially in tourist enclaves that commercially produce artifacts of “staged authenticity” in the guise of creating sites that mimic the cultural heritage of host communities. Tourists do not have to venture out beyond the security of their all-inclusive sites to “experience” the thrill of travel in a foreign and exotic location, which are essentially shielded from the social and economic realities of the communities they visit. The desire on the part of the consumer to have an exotic experience and the willingness of the provider to package it for consumption creates a “reification of the other”. This exchange does not contribute to heightened awareness and sensitivity of societies which differ from the traveler and intensifies the sense of alienation and objectification between the tourist and the host community.

This desire for “authenticity” has come at the expense of non-indigenous citizens of the Fiji Islands who are not acknowledged as bona fide conduits of Fijian culture and society and therefore remain visually absent in the promotion of tourism or from frontline employment opportunities in the hospitality industry. Since its inception, the tourism industry in Fiji has deliberately excluded non-indigenous citizens from both symbolic and substantive representation regardless of the demographic realities on the ground, thus exacerbating the politics of exclusion and the perpetuation of the vulagi. The mystique of the Pacific Islands is eagerly promoted by the state and industry for tourists yearning to experience the myth and mystery of travel to these far flung regions of the globe without being encumbered by the uncomfortable presence of cultures and peoples different than the packaged and contrived product slickly promoted and sold to the consumer.

I argue that international tourism in Fiji has sharpened the country’s ethnic and cultural divisions by privileging the indigenous community as the only authentic representative of place and nation, through systematically excluding ipso facto, non-indigenous communities from visually representing the country in tourism related products. There are few regions in the world that are as emblematic as the South Pacific in constructing a desirable and evocative image of place and experience, except reality is often at odds with the product being sold.

'Defining Patagonia and the Pacific: The Influence of Early European Voyaging and Mapping on Indigenous Identity.' Nicholas Keenleyside, University of Auckland (

Maps can add, remove or modify ownership, occupation and association with the land in numerous ways. If “The assertion of indigenous identity generally involves claims not just to recognition but to particular rights and interests usually based on prior occupation of territory” then the question can arise of what territory and when and how was it occupied. The definition of land ownership, use and occupation is commonly associated with mapping of the land. This can have a direct bearing on ‘indigeneity’ and indigenous rights, as has been recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The phenomenon of mapping, in the sense of cartography, is largely one embraced and utilized by those who would see themselves as non-indigenous. The rapid evolution of European cartography in the 14th -18th centuries was inherently tied to the desire to voyage beyond traditional European spheres of interaction to acquire both material and human resources. This cartographic process is one of the negative origins of indigeneity through the othering of those found to be occupying the newly mapped lands. The ‘newly found’ peoples were identified with the lands and seas they inhabited and yet secondary in value to those lands and seas. Indigeneity is in a sense partly created if a people’s association with their land, economy and culture is encroached upon. Insecurity creates the need for a people to self-identify and differentiate themselves from others. Reasserting those associations can require the translation of what is known and self–evident to the Indigenous into cartographic form. This can fix boundaries when once they were fluid and responsive to internal and environmental factors. Maps will almost always be produced by non-indigenous cartographers on the basis of land surveying. If - as Linda Tuhiwhai Smith observes - research is a dirty word in the indigenous worlds’ vocabulary, then I suggest that in the past, land surveying was often an obscenity. I propose to explore how maps can be reductionist of indigenous homelands, confining and limiting their extents geographically, as well as changing them through the selection of place names shown. Through an exploration of the effects of mapping in southern South America and in Oceania, particularly in the very earliest phases of European contact, I will try to illustrate the origins of this problem which has on-going impacts on indigenous identity.

‘Indigenous Identity as Contested Identity: a Case of the Southern Part of the Russian Far East’ Anatolii Kuznetsov, Far East Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia (

In my presentation I would like to discuss some historical and international issues of identity formation in the Southern part of the Russian Far East. The Amur area on the left bank of the Amur River and the Primorsky territory on the right bank of the Ussury River (located in the Southern part of the present-day Russian Far East) became a part of the Russian state in 1858-1860. A number of indigenous groups of peoples (the Nanai, Orochi, and Udege) inhabited these territories before they were settled by Russians, or by representatives of other peoples of the Russian empire. Before this inclusion, the Primorsky territory and the Amur area were involved in a number of historical events. According th archaeological evidence, these areas were settled over more than ten thousand years. In the Medieval epoch these territories were a part of the Pohai/Bohai state (698-926 AD) and the Jurchen Jin (Gold Empire – 1115-1234). After the Mongol’s invasion, in the XIII century, the Jin empire was destroyed. The rest of the population in the Sungari river area were united prior to the XVII century as the Manchu people. In 1664, Manchurian troops invaded China and, until 1912, the Manchu Qing dynasty ruled over China. In spite of the multiethnic character of the Pohai state and the Jin empire, there is a strong opinion that the population of these states were of the Tungas ethnic group and not Chinese. The Manchu people appear very different from the Chinese according to historical and linguistic evidence. Before the Russian arrival in the Amur area in the XVII century, the Manchu remained in China far away from their native territory. So the issue of the Jurchen and Manchu legacy is very important for identities both in North-East China and the Russian Far East.

Today we recognize a number of identities and identity discourses connected with the Southern part of the Russian Far East. One is the Aboriginal identity represented by the Nanai and Udege peoples. Different kinds of Russian identities exist too. These identities are fluid and they may be changed according to internal and external circumstances (examples could include: the Far East republic, Asiatic Russia). Also the idea that the Udege and Nanai people are the offspring of some population groups of the Jurchen Empire are part of these identities too.

Other kinds of identities are also represented in some Chinese discourses. The official Chinese discourse of national politics regards every people involved in the history of the China state as a part of the Chinese nation. From this point of view, the Jurchen people and the Manchu people are pert of the whole Chinese nation, which raises a question about the Primorsky territory and the Amur area as part of China. The Russia-China border problem was resolved by an official treaty and for many people of the Russian Far East, the Chinese treaty remains an important part of their identity.

‘Constructing Good Liberal Citizens: The Significance of Australia's Income Management Regime’ Melissa E. Lovell, Australian National University, Canberra (

Drawing parallels between contemporary and historical injustices is an important rhetorical strategy which helps Indigenous peoples and their supporters problematize and critique discriminatory policy and political language. However, this strategy of associating problematic and oppressive forms of government with a less enlightened colonial past can inadvertently obscure the innovative and productive nature of colonial government and imply that contemporary colonialism is a remnant of a less enlightened era. The authoritarian and paternalistic aspects of recent Indigenous Affairs governance in Australia, while sharing some marked similarities with past colonial discourses and practices, are also examples of the present-day remaking and updating of conceptions of citizenship, liberal government and national identity. We should never underestimate the role of Aboriginal Affairs governance as a productive space for both the confirmation of and re-making of the Australian political consciousness, nor the effect of contemporary trends in liberal government for the transformation and renewal of a settler colonial form of politics. In this exploratory study, I investigate the role that Australia’s Income Management Regimes (IMRs)which was part of a broader strategy for ‘Closing the Gap’ between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australiansplayed in clarifying and producing conceptions of the ‘good’ liberal citizen. Postcolonial scholars have demonstrated that colonial forms of representation has historically played a crucial role in the production of conceptions of national identity, gender roles, and even class consciousness in the ‘metropole’. I demonstrate that this insight applies equally to current processes of government. The classification of Indigenous Australians as a dysfunctional and ‘vulnerable’ population reveals much about current Australian conceptions of the ideal liberal citizen. To paraphrase Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the government envisions the ideal citizen as someone who takes care of their children, sends their kids to school, pays their rent, saves up for a home, respects ‘good social norms’, respects the law and ‘reaches out to other Australians’. It also reveals the pervasiveness of the ‘punitive turn’ in social policy, associated with neoliberal forms of government, and the adaptation of this approach to the Australian situation. The recasting of Indigenous poverty as both a personal, moral failure and as a failure of Aboriginal cultural norms (clearly not the ‘good social norms to which the Prime Minister referred) demonstrates both the adaptability of settler colonial discourse and the intimate relationship between colonial and liberal forms of political rationality.

‘Indigenous identity, ‘authenticity’ and the structural violence of settler colonialism’ Sarah Maddison, University of New South Wales, Sydney (

In many ways, the structural violence of settler colonialism continues to dominate the lived experience of Indigenous populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in contemporary Australia. One aspect of this structural violence concerns the regulation of Indigenous identity, today perpetuated through state and popular monitoring of the ‘authenticity’ of Aboriginal people. This paper argues that the contest over Indigenous identity perpetuates a form of symbolic political violence against Indigenous people. It considers the ways in which structural violence against Indigenous identity has featured in Australia’s settler colonial regime, and examines the particular violence faced by urban-dwelling Aboriginal people, who endure much contemporary scrutiny of the ‘authenticity’ of their Indigeneity. As a case study, the article examines the symbolic violence associated with the Australian discrimination case Eatock V Bolt, and in light of this analysis concludes that settler colonies could make a decolonising gesture by legislating for the stronger protection of Indigenous identities.

‘Ethnicity, Colonial Administration and Post-Independence Issues of Identity Politics in Assam State in India’ Dr. N. Bijen Meetei, Assam University, Silchar (

The North-East, famous for its pluralism across ethnic traditions, has been experiencing lots of socio-political aberrations as groups actively pursue exclusive rights including separate territories. The idea of “indigenous” has been evoked in order to legitimize the exclusive territorial claims. Each decade witnesses new movements from communities identified as “indigenous” for socio-political aspirations, many of which have often turned violent. By following comparative analysis of experiences in Meghalaya and Manipur, the paper argues that though there are internal forces, such as issues of cultural domination and material injustice, ethnic unrests are not merely a post-colonial development. Colonial administration had its own contribution. Ethnic categorization that produced ‘ethnic conglomerates’, was undertaken by colonial ethnographers not on the basis of sociological facts but mere administrative conveniences. This historical error generates two contrasting issues leading to conflict. One, identities are formed or imagined by clubbing multiple indigenous communities each of which sees as distinct identity for demanding exclusive territories often leading to the suppression of smaller identities within. Second, smaller groups struggle for getting their distinct identities recognized. These issues have thrown up a conundrum especially when negotiating claims of multiple minorities. Are ‘conglomerate identities’ justified in demanding group specific rights, for instance, right to self determination? Though cultural identity is still important, Meghalayan experiences show that such move hardly resolves the crises. This issues of ethnicity, and of the claims of the indigenous communities to exclusive land, has even proved that not only theories and institutions developed for managing diversity against the backdrop of western experiences, but also mechanisms incorporated in the Constitution of India, are inadequate in tackling issues of diversity for the imposed ethnic categorization during the colonial period enabled the present political class to use cultural identity and “indigenousness” for their political ends.

‘Indigenous obligations, liberal enclosures and communitarian recognition: Some critical and cosmopolitan responses’ Gavin Mount, University of New South Wales (ADFA) (

Whereas indigenous ‘politics of belonging’ claims assert traditional obligations to serve as guardians of ancestral lands, liberal democratic settler societies have tended to frame indigenous affairs as questions of land ‘rights’ and constitutional ‘recognition’. Deliberations on rights and cultural recognition are deeply embedded within the philosophical traditions of Western liberalism. As Carruthers and Ariovich (2004:23) observe: ‘The idea of private property suffuses classic liberal thought. Property rights lie at the intersection of law, economy, the state, and culture’. The politics of recognition in an age of multiplicity are also embedded in liberal debates on citizenship and ‘toleration’ (Kymlicka, 1995), although much of these issues tend to be addressed from communitarian rather than ‘procedural liberal’ points of view (Taylor, 1994; Tully 1995). Questions of rights and recognition have also informed recent debates on the character of indigeneity – as relational or criterial, autochthonous or autonomous (Trigger and Dalley, 2010). Similarly, legal reforms, such as the Native Title Act 1993 and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Bill 2012 in the Australian context, reflect legislative expressions of these two agendas. However, deeper assumptions within the Lockean property rights tradition; especially those concerning original acquisition (Singer, 2011), ‘enclosure’ (Ince, 2011) and dispossession (Reynolds, 1987:190), have been persistently contested in indigenous scholarship and political advocacy. Likewise, global initiatives such as the UN Working Group on Indigenous Affairs single out individual land ownership as a ‘threat to indigenous peoples’ (IWGIA, 2013). In contrast, emerging scholarly arguments explore ways that neoliberalism might offer ‘positive opportunities for Indigenous communities’ (Howlett. et. al., 2011; McCormack, 2012) especially in negotiations with the mining sector. Neoliberal politics has been affirmed by newly elected Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles who called for a ‘philosophical shift’ in indigenous affairs ‘to be about economics, not about socialism’ (Aikman, 2013). Giles has already disbanded, or ‘mainstreamed’, the Indigenous Affairs portfolio on the grounds that it was ineffective and racially divisive. This paper will begin by demonstrating how the dominant strands of liberal theory – classical libertarian, communitarian and neoliberal – are manifested in contemporary politics of indigeneity. It will then respond to these circular and contradictory problems with a review of three alternative theoretical approaches – post-structural, cultural Marxist and cosmopolitan – to suggest some alternative ways of thinking through these questions of obligation, rights and recognition.

‘The Burden of Indigenous Health Policy Research’ Bryan Mukandi and Peter S. Hill; University of Queensland, Brisbane (

In 2007, a group of researchers was commissioned by the Department and Health and Ageing to investigate the Burden of Disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. During that process, the then official estimate of Indigenous life-expectancy, and consequently the size of ‘the gap’, were questioned by the researchers, who then proposed an alternative estimate of the size of ‘the gap’. That decision proved to be contentious.

This article explores the manner and degree to which the policy process contributes to the definition of Australian Indigenous identity. It is based on an analysis of in-depth interviews with the majority of those involved with commissioning, carrying out and advising the Indigenous Burden of Disease study, as well as those responsible for feeding those findings into policy proposals. It will be shown that the Indigenous health policy research process is a dialogic one, in which the politics of Indigenous identity occupy centre stage. The argument will be put that considerations of the political impact of research findings mediate their legitimacy and constrain what is officially endorsed, and that this in turn has a bearing on aspects of what can be legitimately taken to represent Indigeneity.

The article concludes with questions about the conditions necessary for the possibility of mutual recognition. Based on the work of Charles Taylor, the question is asked whether the politics of difference and the possibility of recognition are incommensurable.

‘Indigenous Discourse and Response: The Palestinian Minority and the Jewish Majority in Israel’ Benni Neuberger, Open University Australia (

In the last decade, the political and intellectual elite of the Palestinians in Israel (exclusive of the occupied territories) has adopted the indigenous discourse that has developed in the US, Canada, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand. The main argument is that Israel’s Jewish society is a European settler society that oppresses Israel’s non-European indigenous population. The discourse replaces the usual majority-minority discourse which compares the Palestinian minority with the other cultural/national minorities (e.g. Afro-Americans, Quebecquois, Catalans, Hungarians in Romania, Serbs in Croatia, etc.). I will try to explore the reasons for this new discourse, compare the Israel case with others, and explore the spectrum of Israeli’Jewish responses (religious, nationalist, liberal, post-Zionist).

‘Indigenous Australian Land rights, Conflicting Worldviews and Self-Determination’ Karen O’Brien, University of Sydney (

Indigenous Australian knowledge systems in art advise land claims and decisions made as a part of a legal process. Artists of the far western desert make collaborative canvases; the visual counterpart of European land titles, that provide legal testimony and evidence of cultural continuity for native title land claims. As cultural repositories of Indigenous knowledge, paintings are of historical and intellectual significance. In many instances they illustrate the conflict that took place between police and the local community around proposed ‘settlement’. It is knowledge such as this, which is important to understand in order to come to terms with Indigenous interpretations of reality and to comprehend Indigenous worldviews and notions of self-determination.

‘Indigeneity, Ethnicity and the State’ Dominic O'Sullivan, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst (

The politics of indigeneity claims extant political rights to challenge traditional assumptions of state power and authority. This article shows that indigeneity distinguishes the claims of first occupancy from simple ethnic identity politics, illustrating that relative political marginalisation in Australasia is not so much a function of minority status but of indigeneity itself. The Australasian states are compared with Fiji to demonstrate that the significance of historical constraints on political authority transcend the withdrawal of a colonial power and the restoration of collective indigenous majority population status. The comparison is used to argue that when indigeneity, as both political theory and political strategy, is juxtaposed with Western liberal ideas of government and governance one finds theoretical justification for sharing state sovereignty in ways that admit the right of all people to political participation.

'Indigenous Citizenship and Parliamentary Representation in Australia and New Zealand’ Roderic Pitty, University of Western Australia, Perth (

Australia and New Zealand were among only four states to vote against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when it was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007. Australia was the first of these recalcitrant settler states to endorse the Declaration without reservation in April 2009, followed a year later by New Zealand. Yet political representation of Indigenous peoples in New Zealand has been substantially greater than in Australia, both historically and in the contemporary era of increased international attention to monitoring state recognition of, and respect for, Indigenous rights. Historically, Aboriginal leaders such as Yorta Yorta elder William Cooper looked to New Zealand as a model for Australia, with a focus on Maori parliamentary representation (e.g. Cooper in Attwood & Markus 2004: 76). Although parliamentary representation of Aboriginal people in Australia has been minimal compared to Aotearoa/New Zealand, the New Zealand parliamentary model has often been ignored in Australian discussions of possible moves towards constitutional, and/or statutory, forms of recognition of the rights acknowledged in the Declaration. In the contemporary era the New Zealand model is complex, involving both the historical fact of an option for Maori of enrolling on a separate Indigenous electoral roll, and the recent creation of proportional representation. Both factors have contributed to increased political representation of Maori in New Zealand, despite relatively low voter-turnout in Maori seats. While neither of these factors is constitutionally entrenched, conservative attempts to eliminate them have failed. By contrast, no systemic reforms have been undertaken in Australia to increase Aboriginal political representation, despite occasional parliamentary inquiries. As a result Aboriginal political representation in Australia is, with the recent exception of the Northern Territory, minimal and tenuous, and depends much more than in New Zealand on candidate selection by major parties. This paper will analyse the main contemporary reasons for the contrasting experiences of Indigenous peoples in Australia and New Zealand concerning parliamentary representation. The recent re-evaluation of a founding treaty relationship with Indigenous peoples in New Zealand is a key difference from Australia, but this relationship is uncertain constitutionally in New Zealand, so the contrast with Australia is not largely constitutional. The paper will focus on how Indigenous parliamentary representation in New Zealand has been linked with ideas of differentiated citizenship, in which Indigenous peoples have rights of substantive equality based on recognition of their original heritage. The paper will also assess whether obstacles in Australia to systemic reforms designed to increase Aboriginal parliamentary representation could be overcome, and if so in what ways.

‘Arctic Indigenous Peoples in Russian Politics: Different Responses to the Challenges of Authoritarianism’ Petr Panov, Perm University, Russia ( and Oleg Podvintsev, Institute of Philosophy and Law, Russia (

The paper is devoted to the role of Arctic indigenous peoples in Russian politics and the influence of indigenity on political processes. The collapse of the Soviet political system awakened ethnic movements and entailed that the issue of indigenous identity, their rights and interests came in the focus of political agenda in Arctic regions. In some cases, indigenous peoples obtained reserved seats (quotas) in regional legislatures. In 6 regions (Yamalo-Nenets, Khanty-Mansi, Nenets, Taimyr, Koryak, Yevenk autonomous okrugs) they were recognized as ‘titular nationalities’ despite the fact that they were minorities. In 2000s, however, an evident shift toward authoritarianism resulted in significantly change in Russian politics. In particular, centralization policy puts into question parliamentary representation of indigenous peoples. The Federal Center has attempted to deprive the ‘ethnic autonomous okrugs’ of their status of ‘subjects of RF’ by merging them with a ‘superior regions’. The paper aims to examine how indigenous leaders and regional elites respond to these authoritarian trends and to explain cross-regional variations. Starting from the description of a general situation of indigenous peoples in Arctic regions of Russia, the paper then proceeds to in-depth comparative study of 6 ‘autonomous okrugs’ that are the most meaningful cases for the purpose of this study. It focuses on two points of authoritarian shift, which are the most sensitive for both indigenous and Russian regional elites: a) cancellation of indigenous parliamentary quotas; b) elimination of autonomous districts. We find significant cross-regional differences in how the regions respond to these challenges. Thus, Khanty-Mansi okrug, in contrast to the others, managed to maintain an indigenous quota. While Taimyr, Koryak, and Yevenk okrugs have been eliminated, three other regions were able to resist and save their status. The study allows concluding that these variations are explained by different patterns of interrelations between indigenous leaders and Russian regional elites, which are results of a complex combination of factors: a) interests: regional elites seek to bring indigenous under control but, at the same time, benefit from indigenity and identity politics in opposing to centralization policy; b) values: respect for indigenous culture and heritage; c) capabilities: financial resources, relations with the Kremlin, etc.

‘Indeginity as a Factor in Ethnic Violence in the State of Assam in India’

Sangit Kumar Ragi, University of Delhi, India (

Assam is the largest state of India’s North-East region. The state has significant strategic importance because not only it connects the rest six other states of North East region of India with rest of India through a narrow Siliguri Corridor, popularly known as Chicken Neck, but also adjoins two international borders of Bhutan and Bangladesh. The state is the home of numerous ethnic groups marked by presence of all major religions denominations besides several powerful tribal groups which have their own language and culture. This religio-linguistic and cultural diversity has factored into frequent spurt of ethnic conflicts in the state; sometime between Bengali speaking settlers and Assamese speaking natives, between Bodos (A tribe in the region) and Non-Bodos, besides the conflicts between Hindus and Muslims.

One such major riot broke out between Bodos and Muslims in the Bodo region in 2012 in the state which continued unabated for months with loss of several lives, burning of several villages and massive displacement and territorial condensation and polarization of ethnic populations. The conflict drew the national attention because of the massive exodus of Assamese population from other parts of the country, particularly from Maharastra and Karnataka in light of the threat messages propagated through use of mobile devices.

The violence triggered once again the issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and their settlement in different pockets of the state and their acquisition of citizenship and land rights. Further, it initiated a debate in nativity and entitlement on the land and protection of indigenous culture. While the immigrants have been asking for land rights in the region, Bodos have been demanding for flushing them ( immigrants) out from the territory. Bodos have alleged that these immigrants have seriously come to adversely affect the territorial, economic and cultural space of the community.

The present paper seeks to examine the nature and the reasons of the violence in the state. Secondly, it seeks to examine the phenomenon of infiltration and changes in the demographic profile of different parts of Assam and how such demographic changes has triggered the ethnic polarization and competitive identity politics and conflicts in the entire state. Third, how the issue of indeginity has been approached by the state in the region and why the state initiatives have failed to provide a credible and lasting solution?

‘The Closing of another gap: An investigation into the distance between Indigenous grass roots movements and the political mainstream’ Teresa Ryan, University of Canberra (

Indigenous Australians have had a tumultuous connection to the political landscape inhabited within this country. From European settlement to persons of interest such as Pemulway and the beginnings of grass roots movements in the early 1920’s, Aboriginal Australia has invested great time and energy into the politicisation of their identity. This is not necessarily unique within cultural identity groups that have been dispossessed of their homelands; however many other identity groups have managed to fill the space between strong factions, ground level campaigning and the mainstream political arena, and have involved themselves within the trenches of parliament, thereby affecting policy. Indigeneity and the complexities that surround it require a unique construction and negotiation between the individual involved and the hegemonic systems it must participate in. This is no more evident than in that of dealing with public policy issues. Whether in remote areas or in an urban environment, Indigenous people of Australia partake in a continual balancing act of how they perform their identity and to whom. Government policies pertaining to Indigenous Australia, be it in Native Title legislation, corporate governance or interventionist directives create not only a dominant/submissive role play between White Australia and Indigenous Australia, but also an expectation for certain performances of identity to take place. For those Indigenous Australians that have mixed heritage, it can be problematic if appearing to ‘side’ with a component of policy that others do not agree with, suggesting a form of ‘lateral violence’ such as “They know nothing about community” or “they aren’t really Aboriginal”. This paper shall look back at the history of social movements within Australia’s Indigenous population, together with an investigation into the concept of Indigeneity as a beginning point in the understanding of why there is a chasm between grass roots and mainstream. Governmentality, Australian politics, and the way it is communicated to the public is yet another component of the puzzle that may assist the audience in the comprehension of this empty space, along with mention of those that are moving gradually moving from an activist role into that of a mainstream representative.

‘The Politics of the Diffusion of Indigenous Rights: A Social Movement Analysis of the Mapuche Concept of Indigenous Territory’ Jeanne W. Simon, Claudio J. González-Para, University of Concepción, Chile (

The conscious use of the term “Indigenous” to demand differentiated rights based on cultural differences (re)emerged in the 1980s and 1990s in many Latin American countries, and the demands of indigenous activists and organizations have centered around land rights and local political/regional autonomy, challenging prevailing ideas about citizenship, the nation-state, and the international state system. At first, the focus of indigenous groups’ demands was principally the State within which their territory was located and their objective was to defend their local autonomy from neoliberal policies, but indigenous activists and organizations increasingly turned to the global arena (United Nations system, international courts, and even international public opinion) to defend and advance their cause: protesting construction of mega-development projects in indigenous territory, presenting international legal claims, and creating alliances with both other indigenous and non-indigenous organizations. In only 30 years, indigenous activists and organizations have transformed indigenous rights into a platform that criticizes the Western Liberal democratic project, achieving significant changes in the legal language and rights of indigenous peoples and persons. The objective of the present paper is to trace the mutual influence of the different arenas where indigenous politics occur by analyzing the influence and the implementation of the International Labor Organization Convention 169 on the concept of indigenous territory used by the Chilean Mapuche movement over the last 10 years.

‘Indigeneity and the Construction of State Modernity’ Katherine Smits, University of Auckland, New Zealand (

The political and juridical responses of settler states to indigenous political claims have fallen into two major categories: firstly, redistributions in line with redress for historical injustice and/or newly recognized Treaty obligations. Secondly, postcolonial states have provided for the recognition of indigenous cultures as part of larger, state-sponsored discourses of multiculturalism. This focus on cultural expression and recognition has formed a key part of state responses to indigenous claims in New Zealand, Australia and Canada, where discourses of indigeneity have emerged at the same time as polyethnic and minority nationalist claims. Cultural recognition and inclusion as aspects of state policy and public discourse have, since the 1970s, emerged as essential signs of modern postcolonial states, positioned in a global economy. Scholars have shown how earlier projects of state modernization were authorized and supported by civic nationalism, in which commitment to shared political institutions and processes drew on a single dominant culture expressed and shared through the print media. In the past few decades, however, cultural diversity has been co-opted to generate shared civic principles of toleration and inclusion, essential to the discursive construction of the modern state. The recognition and promotion of indigenous culture has played a key role in this in settler societies, but one fraught with contradictions. Since the 1970s, these states have identified themselves as modern in economic terms, dependent not on former colonial powers for markets, but as participants in a neo-liberal global economic order. However indigenous cultural claims have referred to pre-settlement and pre-modern tradition and are defined in terms of continuity and a-temporality. This is clearly apparent in the case of New Zealand, where Maori cultural inclusion has been recognized since the 1980s in a policy of biculturalism, at the same time as governments across the political spectrum redefined the country’s economic and political identity. This paper examines the relationship between indigeneity and state modernity, focussing on New Zealand. It draws critically on the literature around modernization, and considers arguments that the recognition of indigenous cultures underpins a postmodern national identity. The paper argues however that the combination in indigeneity policy of cultural recognition with values of social and historical justice authorizes a distinctively modernist construction of the state.

‘Land, Territory and Political Difference: What is the Target of Settler Colonial Elimination?’ Elizabeth Strakosch ( and Alissa Macoun, University of Western Sydney (

In this paper, we investigate recent Australian parliamentary debates about constitutional recognition of Indigenous people in order to identify a range of important settler investments in the politics of Indigenous identity. Existing academic work has explored the Australian politics of Indigenous recognition, and has highlighted the nation-building dimensions of these public acts of acknowledgement. However, we consider them in relation to the emerging field of settler colonial studies, and in particular, to the ‘logic of elimination’ that Patrick Wolfe identifies as central to settler colonial projects. While he and others frame settler colonialism as primarily driven by a desire to replace Indigenous peoples on their land, an examination of contemporary recognition debates complicates this understanding. We suggest that the rhetorical appeals of both the Prime Minister and Opposition leader seek to eradicate and resolve the Indigenous political difference that disrupts the settler state’s claim to sovereign completion. In this instance, the logic of elimination is not so much directed towards possession of ‘land’ as a material resource as ‘territory’, which operates at the level of political imagination to bind together Australian land and settler political institutions. This analysis in turn raises interesting questions regarding the articulation of a specifically settler understanding of sovereignty, which ties political authority and land together more closely than alternative Western formulations. The question then becomes how this rigid form of sovereignty might ‘bend’ by drawing on more flexible and de-territorialised notions, or else ‘break’ in its encounter with ineradicable Indigenous political difference in ways that open up radical new possibilities of conceptualizing political relationship. Ultimately, we argue that defining the object of the logic of elimination as political difference rather than land creates more space for imagining post-settler colonial futures.

‘Constitutional Transformation’: The Indigenous Call to Secure Long Term Protection of Lands, Waters and Life in Aotearoa (New Zealand)’ Veronica MH Tawhai, Massey University, New Zealand.

Within New Zealand settler parliament legislation, recognition of indigeneity has included some incorporation of indigenous laws, values, and the rights of indigenous communities to participate in environmental decision-making. This has laid the foundation for the development of co-management and co-governance relationships between settler-government environmental authorities and iwi (indigenous nations), and better understanding and local-level protection of lands and waters in Aotearoa as a result. Specific developments over the past ten years, however, undermine this foundation and threaten the positive advancements made, including legislation and current proposals regarding the foreshore and seabed, deep sea oil drilling, fracking, open pit mining, the privatisation of state assets involving waterways, and the rights of Māori to be consulted, involved, and challenge political decisions on these matters. These developments have occurred despite the presence in Parliament of the largest number of Māori seats, Māori parties and Māori Members, including those holding senior portfolios, in the history of Māori political representation within the settler-governing system. Subsequently, in the face of apparently futile Māori settler-parliament influence, indigenous resistance to these developments have included a call for ‘constitutional transformation’; transformation of the colonial governing system which arguably continues to perpetuate a culture of colonisation in relation to lands, resources and indigenous rights, to one where indigenous laws and values are the foundation for a governing system which benefits all citizens through the protection of lands, waters, and thereby life, for all in Aotearoa.

‘Dynamic and Fluid: Self Determination, Identity and Representation in Aotearoa New Zealand’ Linda Te Aho, University of Waikato, New Zealand (

Issues of representation, mandate, cross claims and the extent of tribal territories continue to challenge both the Crown and the indigenous Māori of Aotearoa New Zealand in the Treaty of Waitangi Settlement negotiations landscape, and is currently a hot topic. Crown policies in relation to settlement negotiations perpetuate a long history of superficial observations of Māori tribal structure by others and the rigid and static structural models created by 19th Century ethnologists. Māori political and social systems were always dynamic and continuously modified in response to such phenomena as environmental change and population expansion. The greatest of these changes took place in response to the arrival of Europeans. In ever changing circumstances Māori have adapted their lifestyle, self-conceptualisation, and alliances as the need arose. This paper and conference presentation will explore the particular question of how and by whom Māori tribal identity is defined and deployed with reference to the large Waikato-Tainui confederation of tribes. It will also examine higher level questions about what forms indigenous self-determination and self-governance might take, and what Māori can learn from the history of indigenous movements around the world.

‘Differing Approaches to Indigeneity in Self-determining Societies: A Comparison of Timor-Leste and Bougainville, Papua New Guinea’

Joanne Wallis, Australian National University, Canberra ( )

Indigenous identity can play an important role in the self-determination claims of minority groups. These groups can claim that their unique indigenous identity distinguishes them from the remainder of the state, and entitles them to differing levels of recognition: from minority rights, to cultural, political and/or economic autonomy, through to independence. This paper compares the approach taken to indigenous identity in two recent case of self-determination: Timor-Leste and Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. It describes how indigeneity played a relatively minor role in Timor-Leste’s self-determination struggle, which was instead justified primarily on the basis of the territory’s colonial history. This was surprising, given that Timorese people arguably shared an indigenous identity that was different to that of the majority of Indonesians (except in Indonesian West Timor). In contrast, indigeneity played a major role in Bougainville’s self-determination struggle, which was again surprising, given that Bougainvillean people arguably share a relatively similar indigenous identity to other Papua New Guineans. This paper then considers the influence that these differing approaches have had on the approach to nation-building adopted by the two self-determining societies. It argues that, although there are calls for indigeneity to play a more important role in Timor-Leste’s national narrative and identity, they have instead been strongly-influenced by a modernist approach which draws on recent history. In contrast, in Bougainville a more ethno-symbolist approach, which draws heavily on indigeneity stretching back through ‘time immemorial’, has been adopted to define a uniting narrative and identity. This paper concludes by identifying implications of these differing approaches for nation-building and the future unity and stability of the two cases.

‘Governing Difference: Indigenous Rights and Liberal Freedom’ Virginia Watson, University of Technology, Sydney (

This paper examines some of the ways in which the notion of liberal governmentality – the idea of governing through freedom – might some generate revised insight into the ways in which Indigenous peoples are currently governed in the Australian context. It will be my argument that although much current research takes the development of Indigenous rights premised on the recognition of Indigenous difference as foundational to liberal governmentality there is a tendency, nonetheless, to continue to regard this mode of governing as continuous with earlier, coercive, colonial forms of power. Drawing on recent ethnographic and anthropological research I hope to show some of the ways in which rights and freedoms rather than opposing power can in fact be said to be constitutive of new fields of (liberal governmental) power.

‘Constructing Indigenous Identity: Contestation Between Positional and Place-based Existence in Bangladesh’ Lailufar Yasmin, Macquarie University, Sydney (

Defining ‘indigeneity’ has generally been within the control of the majority population group in a country due to their positional power. It is the majority that defines what constitutes indigeneity and how a state is going to deal with them both from a legal and social point of view. Bangladesh, a country of 42 years, has not been an exception of this general rule, though it could have been. The Bengalis have fought against Pakistani elites and military junta to assert their own identity and have earned independence after nine months of violent battle. But the victorious Bengalis immediately overlooked the reasons behind their own battle and asked the indigenous people, known as adivasis, living in the country, to renounce their claim to their own identity and instead, to embrace the Bengali identity. This led the newly born country to plunge into, first political instability between the Bengalis and indigenous population, and later, into a military skirmish. The political crisis was only partially resolved in 1997. Unfortunately, current Foreign Minister has once again declared that Bangladesh does not have any 'indigenous' population. Such claim has once again flared up the debate on the right of adivasis to maintain their own culture and still be a part of the country. This paper seeks to look at this debate both from a theoretical and a historical perspective. By doing so, it aims to unravel the tyranny of majority in Bangladesh and its overemphasis on ‘Bengali’ identity that clouds any other claim to identity formation in the country. More particularly, the paper aims to point out the dilemma of postcolonial countries that attempt to replicate Western concept of nationhood by forging unnatural ‘homogeneity’ for all the people living within a designated territory yet ignore that the experience of nationhood is entirely different between the West and the latter category. At the end, it is the indigenous population that becomes victims of elite-sponsored attempt to create 'sameness'. Bangladesh stands as a classic example of such a dichotomy, where such attempt to create homogeneity tends to ignore the recognition of indigenous/minority rights to preserve its own culture surrounding a place-based existence only.

‘Requiem for Lenaland: Far Eastern Regional Identity as a Contemporary Indigenous Identity: Geopolitical Aspect’ Ivan Zolotukhin, Far Eastern State University, Russia (

In the article the problem of forming Far Eastern identity as a model of local indigenous identity is examined. Important role in the origin of Far Eastern identity belongs to Russian State which impacted on socio-cultural processes on the East as well as intruding new forms of economic structure, controlling migrant flows and developing military and transport infrastructure in order to hold the territory and prevent possible invasion from outside. Because of geographic remoteness of the Far East the State implemented different measures to overcome the sense of alienation among the newcomers and migrants from central parts of Russian Empire and USSR but directly contributed turning Far East into buffer. Before WWII oppressive regime and persecutions with GULAG system had been built with great constructions, further Far East exploration and strengthening fleet and arms divisions during the whole Soviet period being implemented. However, weak population density as well as unsuccessful performance of infrastructural and transport objectives led to severe miscalculation in Far East development and as a result to the frequent exacerbation in socio-cultural structure and threat of gradually secession this territory from Russia. Contemporary attempts of the Russian Government to realize strategic projects, which refer to the significance of the Far East as a probable core center of AP integration, collide with the risks of depopulation and both illegal and unqualified labor migration. Data reflects contradictions and differences among Federal and regional interests and challenges as well as transformation of regional Far Eastern identity. It may lead in turn to the emergence of indigenous identity unlike to that of local minorities.