This winter term I will be teaching a course on indigeneity and law for our BA-students at the University of Konstanz.
While in the colonial era the alleged “backwardness” of “natives” or even “savages” was taken as an opportunity to deny them their right to their land, today “indigeneity” is a term used by indigenous people themselves in order to assert their rights (to land, natural resources, cultural self-determination, etc.).
In this seminar, we explore the nexus of indigenity and law by reading anthropological texts on indigeneity (and related concepts such as ethnicity). On the other hand, we learn about legal sources for such claims-making through which the rights of indigenous peoples get articulated in recent decades (for example UN resolutions, current court decisions, …).
We will also read two different types of (auto-) ethnographic texts: on the one hand the life story of a Guatemalan indigenous woman, Rigoberta Menchú (Burgos / Menchú 1984) and on the other the recent monograph of the indigenous anthropologist Audra Simpson (2014) “Mohawk Interruptus. Political life across the borders of settler states “to the Kahnawà: ke (Haudenosaunee / Iroquois Confederation) in Quebec.
The aim of the seminar is to be able to trace historical and current connections between processes of Othering and those of Self-culturalization in the name of “indigeneity” from an anthropological perspective, as well as to understand the central role of law in doing so.
Here is the syllabus of the seminar.