chapter  4
13 Pages

Thinking about Maori development in terms of the capability approach: the shift towards the adoption of the Maori Potential Approach


Context: theoretical and historical shifts From the 1960s and 1970s onwards a number of scholars working in the human sciences increasingly began to question many of the methodological foundations and assumptions underlying their disciplines. The reasons behind this process are many and varied and include both internal responses to intellectual debates as well as responses to broader events such as the ongoing process of decolonization, various global economic crises and the ideological conflicts of the Cold War. This linguistic and reflexive turn in the human sciences was based in large part on the rejection of what they saw as the deterministic and alienating tendencies of enlightenment modes of thought. Scholars influenced by this reflexive turn argued for more a partial and contextualized approach to knowledge. This movement away from universal knowledge claims and towards the idea that truth was at best always partial and contextualized was part of a much larger wholesale rejection by many within the academy of meta-narratives and all that they entailed. Another of the effects of this reflexive turn was the legitimation of the validity of different epistemological frameworks. Over this same period a similar crisis was underway amongst citizens of Western states over how they themselves would be governed. Using the riots in Paris in May 1968 as a convenient example, the late 1960s and 1970s were thus witness to a period of dramatic change in the way in which Western societies and particularly certain aspects of Western societies – such as ethnic and religious minorities – engaged with both the state and wider society. As part of this shift during this period, groups of young Indigenous activists in the countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – modelling themselves on groups such as the Black Panthers in the United States – began to increasingly agitate for change in the way in which Indigenous peoples in these four countries were treated. Central to these claims was the notion of Indigenous rights and of Indigenous groups’ inherent right to self-determination. The emergence of the capability approach and its applicability for Indigenous groups in settler countries needs to be contextualized in terms of this crisis and the perceived inadequacy of previous development models such as modernization theory or Keynesian inspired welfare state models to adequately deal with the experiences of modern Indigenous life and allow the full expression of that life.