chapter  4
44 Pages

Environmentalism

In Chapter 3, we saw modernity’s double-hinge operating in indigenism’s instrumentalisation of cosmology to secure a right to self-determination modified as greater autonomy at a substate level and the responsiveness of jurists to this solution. Shamanism was absent from much of that discussion until autonomy became an acceptable solution to the impasse indigenists found themselves at in their negotiations with states. As that solution was pursued in the Awas Tingni case and subsequent cases, the figure of the shaman emerged, apparently without much difficulty, to supply a discursive formulation with which indigenists and jurists could expand the limits of law to accommodate indigenous peoples’ land rights via a right to culture. In the present chapter, I want to illustrate a different way in which modernity’s double-hinge operates in shamanism discourse, by considering shamanism’s imbrications with environmentalism. A qualification is necessary from the outset: environmentalism signifies a wide range of inquiries pertaining to concerns about the Earth’s biosphere as human habitat, and human development within the carrying limits of natural environments. These concerns are the general background to my more focused interest in the historical specificity of what I have termed the ‘indigenist-environmentalist alliance’.