Indigenism, Ethnicity, and the State

Ronald Niezen

in The Origins of Indigenism

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780520235540
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936690 | DOI:
Indigenism, Ethnicity, and the State

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This chapter considers political implications of indigenous peoples' assertions of self-determination and the use of the symbols of statehood. It raises a few questions such as: Are indigenous claims of “nationhood” and self-determination, as some state representatives assert, likely to lead to new possibilities for indigenous secessions from states and thus the violent instability that is associated with the separatist demands of some ethnic groups? Even if indigenous peoples pose no such threat, are their claims to distinct status within nation-states something that can be productively affirmed and acted upon by state governments, or do they go too far beyond liberal expectations of equality and protection of individual rights? Do indigenous peoples represent a form of civil society that can fruitfully resist the centralizing and homogenizing tendencies of states, or should there be more international concern over new possibilities of human rights abuses by increasingly powerful indigenous political entities? And are indigenous demands for recognition part of a more general decline in the identities of nation-states and their ability to remain cohesive?

Keywords: nationhood; homogenizing tendencies of states; indigenous demands; political entities

Chapter.  7577 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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