Self-Determination as Anti-Extractivism: How Indigenous Resistance Challenges IR

Published on E-International Relations, by MANUELA LAVINAS PICQ, MAY 21, 2014.

Indigeneity is an unusual way to think about International Relations (IR). Most studies of world politics ignore Indigenous perspectives, which are rarely treated as relevant to thinking about the international (Shaw 2008; Beier 2009). Yet Indigenous peoples are engaging in world politics with a dynamism and creativity that defies the silences of our discipline (Morgan 2011). In Latin America, Indigenous politics has gained international legitimacy, influencing policy for over two decades (Cott 2008; Madrid 2012).  

Now, Indigenous political movements are focused on resisting extractive projects on autonomous territory from the Arctic to the Amazon (Banerjee 2012; Sawyer and Gómez 2012). Resistance has led to large mobilized protests, invoked international law, and enabled alternative mechanisms of authority. In response, governments have been busy criminalizing Indigenous claims to consultation that challenge extractive models of development. Indigenous opposition to extractivism ultimately promotes self-determination rights, questioning the states’ authority over land by placing its sovereignty into historical context. In that sense, Indigeneity is a valuable approach to understanding world politics as much as it is a critical concept to move beyond state-centrism in the study of IR.

The Consolidation of Indigenous Resistance against Extractivism: … //

… Contesting States of Extraction: … //

… Indigeneity as a Way to Rethink International Relations: … //

… Conclusion:

Indigeneity is a valuable category of analysis for world politics. Indigenous experiences offer a fuller understanding of the world we live in. Further, they provide critical insights into thinking critically about the international. Integrating indigenous perspectives in the study of IR speaks to the ability to extend our political practice beyond the ivory tower. It is not a category of analysis that concerns merely Indigenous peoples, just as racism is not a matter for people of African descent only, or post-colonial studies the domain of previously colonized societies. The entire thrust of Indigeneity is that the non-state is the business of the state, and that there are alternative pathways available to decolonize the discipline. Stripping IR of its state-centrism invites us to reflect upon the entrenched coloniality of international relations. Indigenous perspectives will hopefully inspire scholars to adventure beyond the conventional borders of the discipline. After all, opening an alternative locus of authority is nothing short of revolutionary.

(full long text, notes, references).

(Manuela Lavinas Picq is Professor of International Relations at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Her research focuses on the role of gender and Indigeneity in the practice and study of world politics. She is currently a Member at the Institute for Advanced Study, where she is finishing a book locating Indigenous women politics in international relations and starting a project about the Amazon as a cosmopolitan space (= key: cosmoplolitan Amazon region) … on Google Images-search … and also on Google Web-search).


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