chapter  3
45 Pages

Indigenism

This chapter develops a more oblique perspective on shamanism and the double-hinged technique for which it serves as a metonym than the more direct approach of Chapter 2. This perspective considers the emergence in history of ‘indigenous peoples’ as a transnational identity discursively distinguished from other kinds of identities by arguing that the terms of this distinction, along with their consistency and coherence, have been formulated only relatively recently and that this identity operates at a transnational level to unite geographically dispersed indigenes in a political project at a scale larger than the cultural or ethnic boundaries of specific indigenous communities. In this sense, ‘indigenous’ is a political identity and ‘indigenism’ is its corresponding discourse. The particular focus of this chapter is the notion of a special relationship between collective peoples and their ancestral lands, how this relationship is represented in indigenist discourse in specifically cosmological terms and how this representational strategy in turn has been used to both claim and advance indigenous peoples’ collective right to self-determination. To be clear then, this chapter is not concerned with ethnographically defined communities of ‘native’, ‘aboriginal’, ‘tribal’, or ‘small peoples’, but rather with the discourse that identifies ‘indigenous peoples’ as political entities along with delineating the concerns that ostensibly unite them.