Opening session by Charles R. Hale, SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences Professor, UC Santa Barbara, USA
Intersectional Groundings: Recentering Economics in Indigenous Struggles for Autonomy
This presentation looks back on a half-century expansion of formally recognized indigenous rights, from language and cultural identity, to political representation and territory; and looks forward to deepening existential threats to these very rights, in the form of political violence, resource extraction, racial capitalism, and climate calamity. The focus of these reflections is the place of economic activity—organization of production, sustainable management of resources, the trade-off between self-sufficiency and market dependency, etc.—within broader struggles to claim, defend, and exercise hard-won rights. Drawing on my own activist research in this past era, I observe that cultural-political rights generally took precedence over demands for economic transformation, and attempt to explain why. Next, I turn to the problem of what Olúfémi O. Táíwò has called “elite capture” of identity politics, and consider how a recentering of struggles for economic empowerment might yield a reinvigorated intersectional praxis. I conclude calling attention to what Garifuna activist intellectual Miriam Miranda once referred to as “defensive production,” whereby cultural-political and territorial rights are secured primarily by self-determined economic activity, rather than top-down state recognition.
Event date: 3 November 2022
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