chapter  6
14 Pages

Imbrications

I have tried to represent the problems and issues considered in the preceding chapters in terms of processes. Rather than dependent and independent variables, we are dealing with interrelated events: things happen because other things have happened, are happening, or are anticipated to happen. An indigenist agenda became established at international forums such as the UN because the promise of a moral transcendence of politics contained in human rights utopianism produced political contexts more receptive to indigenist claims. In Bourdieusian terms, one could say the ascendancy of individual human rights discourse altered the stakes structuring the field of indigenous struggles at an international level and therewith the position of indigenists relative to other players competing for those stakes, mainly states but also non-government sectors and privatesector commercial interests too. These developments also increased the worth of symbolic capital cached in transnational indigenous identity and transformed indigeneity into an important mediator with respect to growing anxieties about the unsustainability of contemporary human development strategies and policies. The growing prominence of transnational indigenous identity has been imbricated with other global processes as well. Elaborations and consolidations of a specifically neoliberal homo economicus have incorporated signifiers of indigenous ontological alterity (for example, the unique cosmological bond between indigenous peoples and their ancestral lands, ecocentric disposition, indigenous knowledge, shamanic religiosity, and so on) into techniques of the self. But because this kind of self-conduct correlates with the principle of economy in the neoliberal art of government, these same signifiers are increasingly prominent in the constant adjustments between techniques that coerce the population and processes through which a self constructs and modifies its self. These imbricated processes have increased circulations of signs and bodies, broadened their range, intensified their local penetration, and brought about all kinds of new relations and exchanges (P. Johnson 2002; cf. Chidester 2006). They have, as Appadurai has said, brought us into altogether new conditions of neighbourliness, and therewith precipitated new kinds of problems and challenges (Appadurai 1996: 29). But what does all of this say about shamanism? What does shamanism

mean in a world increasingly sensitive to indigenous peoples’ practices of territoriality, increasingly concerned about humans’ relationship with natural environments we all share, increasingly encouraged and coerced to adjust selfconduct to comport with and augment government conduct? Indeed, what does shamanism mean in a world increasingly integrated by digital communication technologies that not only extend the self in all kinds of novel ways, but also amplify polyvocality and intensify dialogism?